August 10, 2018 12:21
The Korea Customs Service on Thursday said some importers here knew that coal shipments disguised as Russian products came from North Korea.
That would violate UN Security Council Resolution 2371, which ban import of North Korean minerals, as well as South Korea's own sanctions, and make them targets of a secondary boycott from the U.S.
In an interview with Voice of America, U.S. Congressman Ted Poe, who chairs the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade in the House of Representatives, said third-party sanctions should be imposed on South Korean companies and added no countries should exempt.
The U.S. government has already slapped third-party sanctions on Russian and Chinese businesses.
Cheong Wa Dae national security adviser Chung Eui-yong convened a meeting on Thursday to discuss the issue. Cheong Wa Dae said "proper steps" will be taken as soon as a government probe into the coal shipments is completed.
But it has emerged that the South Korean government was tipped off by the U.S. Embassy here. One diplomatic source in Washington said, "The U.S. informed South Korea through the embassy that a ship went to South Korea from Russia carrying North Korean coal."
"At that time, South Korean intelligence was not aware of this," the source added.
The Foreign Ministry passed on the tipoff to the Korea Customs Service, but the shipments had already been registered and 9,156 tons unloaded in South Korean ports.
One intelligence source said, "In the past, our government had the will and ability to monitor such activities on its own, but not any more. There is a widespread view now that people upstairs will not be happy to hear intelligence reports on North Korea."
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