Report Lays Bare Smuggling Routes to N.Korea

  • By Cho Yi-jun

    July 18, 2019 11:38

    A report Tuesday by the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, a nonprofit organization providing analysis on global conflicts, shows that Russia and China remain the weakest links in sanctions against North Korea.

    The UN Security Council has fingered only 32 countries, but the report reveals how the North was able to bypass international sanctions with some 90 countries involved in shipping luxury products to North Korea from 2015 to 2017. C4ADS believes the total value of smuggled goods stood at some US$5.17 billion.

    The report said North Korea continues to import luxury products in spite of international sanctions because "they are scarce, specialized products with high monetary value and great symbolic importance for the [Kim Jong-un] regime."

    The Togo-flagged DN5505 is grounded in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province on Wednesday on suspicion of smuggling North Korean coal. It is also suspected of transporting two Maybachs for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in October 2018.

    The shipments are aided by smartly identified loopholes. For example, each country has different standards for assessing luxury products, and nomenclature and codes that are used to classify products in shipments also vary from one region to another.

    But often the shipments are simply disguised as something else or shipped through many ports where the trail can go cold.

    C4ADS warned that more dangerous cargo could also reach the North by the same routes.

    "North Korea acquires high-end luxury goods through the same overseas smuggling networks as other contraband. As a result, their detection and seizure could be a means to drive action against the Kim regime's core procurement operations," it added.

    "High-end luxury goods share key features with dual-use goods for North Korea's weapons program."

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