About the Author
View more articles by Hamish Macdonald
Hamish Macdonald is an NK News contributor and has previously worked at The Korea Herald and for the Australia Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney.
A total of 37 states have submitted implementation reports in 2017 for United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions against North Korea, according to the UN 1718 committee website this week.
Australia, Canada, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Lao, Monaco, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Uganda, Ukraine, the UK, the U.S., Uruguay, and Vanuatu have all had their reports published on the Committee portal.
Bulgaria, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Hungary, Pakistan, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland and Tajikistan have had their names added to the list of 2017 submissions, but their reports have not yet been fully processed by the committee. The vast majority are related to the latest UNSC sanctions in Resolution 2321.
Resolution 2321 – passed on November 30, 2016 – directed member states “to report to the Security Council within 90 days of the adoption of this resolution, and thereafter upon request by the Committee, on concrete measures they have taken in order to implement effectively the provisions of this resolution.”
While the majority of notices published in 2017 provide updates on the implementation of legal responses to the resolution or blanket statements that the sanctions are being enforced – some reports provide details of specific actions already taken in some cases.
In Italy’s implementation report it details that an unnamed Italian company had requested a contractual license to import or export arms-related material in 2011, but was denied. This specific incident was not detailed by the Italian Government in either of their two previous implementation reports submitted after 2011.
In November 2016, Italy also prevented the export of “swimming fins” to North Korea by an Italian national as it would have breached European Union (EU) luxury goods sanctions. The seven Mares brand swimming fins were valued at over 350 euros according to the report.
It added that the unnamed individual was representing an unidentified Italian entity at the time and was subsequently fined.
The Italian report also provided information on the government’s compliance with restrictions pertaining to the suspension of “scientific or technical cooperation involving persons or groups officially sponsored by or representing the DPRK except for medical exchanges.”
The suspension within 2321 applies unless the 1718 committee decides, on a case-by-case basis, that certain scientific and technical cooperation will not contribute to North Korea’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs or if the member state that is actively engaging in such cooperation makes the same determination.
In response, the Italian government has moved four North Korean students enrolled in the joint International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) and International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) Ph.D. program, to “non-sensitive fields” identified as mathematics, neurosciences, and genomics.
According to its website, the ICTP receives significant funding from the Italian Government, UNESCO and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Four Ph.D. students from the DPRK are listed as studying astroparticle, particle and condensed matter physics in 2016, the ICTP website reveals.
The report also identifies a fifth North Korean attending the ICTP as an independent researcher doing research in the field of string theory and mathematical physics. The report says that this individual is not receiving teaching or training services.
Italy also stated that the acceptance and accreditation of a new Third Secretary, to replace the counselor for political affairs and the current Charge D’Affaires at the DPRK Embassy in Rome, has been on hold since December 2016.
This would be in line with Resolution 2321, which called on member states “to reduce the number of staff at DPRK diplomatic missions and consular posts.”
The enforcement of other measures pertaining to North Korean diplomats included in Resolution 2321 is also underway in Romania, according to its implementation report.
The resolution instructs member states to limit the number of bank accounts at banks in their territory to one per North Korean diplomatic mission and one per properly accredited North Korean diplomat and consular officer.
It also decides that states will prohibit North Korea from using property in their member state territory for “any purpose other than diplomatic or consular activities”.
Romania indicated that North Korea’s embassy in Bucharest “had multiple bank accounts opened at banks registered in Romania” and have contacted the embassy to instruct them to comply with UN restrictions.
The Romanian report also revealed that North Korean diplomats have been “renting buildings within its premises to certain entities”, although those entities were not named.
“Measures to ensure conformity are being taken,” the report said, adding that Romania is also reviewing the number of diplomats present in the country.
In its report, Singapore reiterated the implementation of visa restrictions on North Koreans entering the country, which took effect on October 1, 2016.
It also said that it has actively attempted to highlight risks for Singapore’s financial institutions engaging with DPRK entities.
“On 6 January 2017 the Monetary Authority of Singapore also issued a circular for all financial institutions to highlight these new provisions and to alert them to the risk that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could use front companies and business relationships with Singaporean companies to circumvent Security Council sanctions,” the report reads.
Authorities also “proactively engaged business owners and relevant entities to remind them of existing and new restrictions imposed on” North Korea and reached out to individual businesses involved in trade with entities linked to the country.
Pan Systems – a Singaporean company – was recently listed in the 1718 Committee’s Panel of Experts (PoE) 2017 report. The panel showed that Pan Systems was linked to an illicit North Korean business network that was selling military communications equipment, in violation of sanctions.
Other countries that were cited in the PoE report, linked to activities of concern related to the DPRK, provided few details on sanctions enforcement and implementation. This includes Uganda, which issued a brief report saying that it has disseminated Resolution 2321 among its ministries and is currently following up on its implementation.
Update: Immediately after publication several reports were included on the 1718 committee website. The headline and lead have been changed to reflect the updated number.