What Sanctions? At Least 50 Countries Still Trading with North Korea


After all the bombastic rhetoric from U.S. President Donald Trump on countries cooperating to levy economic sanctions on North Korea, a stunning report shows that at least 50 of them continue to maintain trade relations with Kim Jong Un’s regime.

A report from the Institute for Science and International Security showed that many countries violated the directive of the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) for its members to impose economic sanctions on North Korea for its repeated testing of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM).

Among the U.N. member countries identified by the report included:

  • Angola
  • Brazil
  • China
  • Ethiopia
  • Germany
  • India
  • Malaysia
  • France
  • Ireland
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Russia
  • Mongolia
  • Palau
  • Panama
  • Greece

The inclusion of China, Russia and Iran were not much of a surprise as these countries have a history of allegiance with North Korea.

The most disconcerting entry was Japan which had been under constant threat of attack from North Korea since September where Pyongyang fired an ICBM that landed on waters near its islands.

Japan was identified by the report as one of the countries that has been providing assistance to ship the illegally traded technologies, goods and minerals to and from North Korea.

According to the report, North Korea is able to circumvent and bypass the sanctions by selectively targeting countries that have weak or non-existent export and proliferation financing controls as well as those countries that have higher levels of corruption compared to others.

Despite Beijing’s assurances to Trump, China has continued to import goods and minerals from North Korea. These products were part of the list of sanctions imposed by the UNSC.

Daniel Wertz, Associate Director of the National Committee on North Korea, concurred with the findings of the report:

“North Korea’s overseas trading networks have developed sophisticated methods for sanctions evasion, often relying on foreign front companies or operating in jurisdictions with weak export control or anti-money laundering laws. Additionally, in past years many countries have lacked either the interest or the technical capacity to fully comply with UN sanctions, leading to uneven enforcement at a global level.”

As it turns out, asking member countries to impose is one thing. Implementing the sanctions is another. It may be up to the U.S. to push these erring countries to abide by the U.N. directive and abide with the sanctions.

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