N.Korea 'Exported $370 Million Worth of Illegal Coal Last Year'

  • By Kim Jin-myung

    February 12, 2020 13:22

    North Korea illegally exported about US$370 million worth of coal through ship-to-ship transfers with Chinese vessels last year, the Panel of Experts to the UN Security Council North Korea Sanctions Committee reports, according to Reuters on Monday.

    The North also imported oil in breach of the UNSC sanctions, which cap imports at 500,000 barrels a year. According to the report, the North exported 3.7 million tons of coal worth some $370 million between January and August last year, 2.8 million tons through clandestine ship-to-ship transfers.

    Chinese barges then carried the North Korean coal to three ports in the Hangzhou Bay of the East China Sea and facilities along the Yangtze River.

    A North Korean tanker (right) attempts an illegal transfer of oil from a China-flagged ship in this May 19, 2018 photo from the Japanese Ministry of Defense. /AP-Yonhap

    The report also reveals that the North earned at least $22 million by exporting to China more than 1 million tons of soil and sand dredged from its rivers.

    Sand is becoming an increasingly sought-after commodity to make concrete for China's frantic building boom.

    The report also said the North continued to launch cyberattacks on banks and cryptocurrency exchanges. "These attacks have resulted in monetary losses and have provided illicit revenue for [North Korea] in violation of financial sanctions."

    Meanwhile, Recorded Future, a U.S. cybersecurity firm, said in a report Sunday that the North's volume of Internet usage jumped threefold from 2017 to 2019. Since ordinary people there have no Internet access, the jump seems to have stemmed from cryptocurrency mining and massive cyberattacks.

    The North concentrates on mining Monero, which ensures such a high level of anonymity that it is easy to hide, rather than the more high-profile and traceable Bitcoin, it added.

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