Washington said it would offer full support to Singapore in enforcing Resolution 2270 against North Korea, in a White House statement published on Tuesday.
The declaration was part of a larger press release issued on a visit by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Washington to commemorate fifty years of diplomatic relations.
U.S. support on implementing the newest UN resolution will “expand bilateral cooperation to ensure the enforcement of this resolution, including on cargo inspections, shipping, and finance,” the press release reads.
Part of the cooperation will focus on equipping Singapore with better methods of assessing incoming shipping cargoes, using enhanced risk assessment procedures and specific software solutions.
“The United States welcomed and offered full support of Singapore’s commitment to strengthen advanced cargo screening procedures, which is essential to securing the global supply chain, including through Singapore’s decision to conduct a three-year trial of the World Customs Organization’s Cargo Targeting System (CTS),” the statement adds.
The CTS software collates shipping manifests and bills of lading. Customs officials can then search databases hosted in-country to better target shipping containers for inspection.
The sheer volumes of shipping containers moving through trade routes mean that only a small percentage are ever inspected. North Korea has in the past routed sanctioned cargoes through various transhipment hubs, so that they do not travel directly from their home port to the DPRK.
Reports from the UN’s Panel of Experts over the years have made numerous references to how the DPRK uses trans-shipment to move sanctioned items across the world.
“As no global shipping companies call at ports in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, all containers originating from or destined to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are processed through regional transport hubs,” the 2013 report reads.
But solutions like the CTS software and enhanced inspection procedures could make it more difficult for North Korea to move illicit cargoes through various ports, by providing inspection authorities with documents that can disappear in the trans-shipment process.
“Supporting Singapore Customs baseline profiling ability is clearly a positive step toward strengthening the country’s counter proliferation efforts as a regional transshipment hub,” Lawrence Dermody, a former SIPRI analyst specializing in elicit trafficking told NK News.
However Dermody added there was still more that could be done to help customs officers.
“While sophisticated in its use of manifest and declared data fields, the introduction of CTS doesn’t necessarily appear to provide richer sources of primary information, such as financial and insurance documents that are associated with transshipped cargo.”
The news follows further action on Resolution 2270 by the Singaporean government. In their sanctions implementation notice to the UN last month, the Singaporean authorities declared they would no longer allow North Korean citizens visa-free travel, with plans for implementing a new visa regime already in the works.
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Featured Image: Horizon by Tristan Taussac on 2014-04-07 19:55:12