North Korea Getting Illicit Supplies from Russia Despite Sanctions
Monday saw a new escalation of sanctions against North Korea, as the world grapples with the question of how to dim the rogue nation's nuclear ambitions without risking a war. So far, the answer has always been to squeeze international trade restrictions on the North in tighter and tighter increments, an approach that must permit no violations if it is to succeed.
The Washington Times reports that U.S. law enforcement officials have come forward with evidence that North Korea has been sourcing supplies from Russian smugglers in a clear violation of the U.N. Security Council's imposed sanctions. The trade in illicit exports from Russia has been on the rise since the spring, when regime's biggest trade partner, China, enacted a temporary lockdown on fuel products going to the North coming from a state-owned petroleum company.
Evidence for the illicit trade spike emerged via documents showing an increase in tanker excursions between Vladivostok, Russia, and ports in North Korea. U.S. law enforcement pointed its finger at profit-seeking Russian entrepreneurs, who have created a tangled web of false fronts and money laundering enterprises to conceal their sanction-evading activities.
The Russian smuggling operations are lending a lifeline to an increasingly isolated nation and negating the purpose of the U.N. sanctions. The harsh measures are meant to pressure the North Korean government and its leader Kim Jong Un into giving up their quest to develop nuclear armaments. The new Security Council resolution expanded on already existing sanctions with measures to cap North Korea's oil imports and ban its textile exports.
Meanwhile, the U.K. Foreign Office is doing an investigation to determine whether nuclear technology secrets were provided to North Korean scientists by countries such as Iran and Russia. Iran is considered the primary suspect, but some British authorities have expressed their suspicions of Russia, notes the Telegraph.