The North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a substantial statement on Friday via the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), in which it lashes out at sanctions imposed against the country and includes details about the products and goods that have been prevented from reaching the country.
The statement heavily criticized the U.S. for imposing the sanctions, however the foreign ministry also cites the impacts of UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, which have been unanimously adopted by the council – including North Korean trade partners and historical allies China and Russia.
“The despicable sanctions and pressure imposed on the DPRK by the U.S. and its vassal forces have reached the extreme,” the statement reads.
“Their sanctions have grown utterly vicious and barbaric today as to try to obliterate the rights to existence and development of the state and people of the DPRK, destroy modern civilization and bring the world back into medieval darkness,” the article says.
The foreign ministry makes several detailed and specific references to goods that have been prevented from entering the DPRK and alleged impacts on its citizens in the over 1700 word article. It first sought to criticize luxury goods sanctions against the country.
Under UNSC resolutions, member states are prohibiting from exporting luxury goods to North Korea, an inclusion aimed at depriving the leadership and elites from acquiring such products.
The statement says that customs officials of a “certain country” seized frozen chicken, cosmetics packaging, zipper tab production equipment, frequency stabilizers and voltage regulators “to be used at fishery stations”.
The foreign ministry added that yet another country, prevented the transfer of sports firearms, ammunition and archery equipment.
Citing the actions of yet another unnamed European country, likely Italy, the statement complained that diving flippers bound for North Korea had been confiscated under the same sanctions.
Another unnamed European country, it said, prevented the transfer to North Korea of ski equipment, a yacht, mountaineering boots, a snowmobile, a snow groomer and billiard table under luxury goods sanctions.
However despite its complaints and the sanctions, North Korea has continually been able to import luxury goods into the country. This includes equipment for its luxury ski resort, jewels, yachts and vehicles.
During a recent trip to North Korea, NK Pro staff also observed luxury alcohol, bags and other products being sold in the country.
The statement also claimed that the sanctions have impacted humanitarian sectors in North Korea.
“The UNICEF country office in the DPRK ordered 24.4 tons of malaria mosquito repellent (Insecticide Residual Spray) from other countries in September 2016, but they were unable to sign a contract for the transportation of the goods as that would breach the UN ‘sanctions resolutions’,” it read.
“The goods could never leave the place of origin and they have remained piled up in the warehouse for 9 months until today.”
The foreign ministry also said that in November of 2016, 15 mobile x-ray units intended for tuberculosis detection were delayed for 6 months due to dual use item sanctions. Dual use items are goods that have both civilian and potentially illicit or military applications.
“A hundred thousand ampoules of ephedrine” were also seized from a “health company” in January of this year according to the foreign ministry.
In its 2017 report, a UN Panel of Experts (PoE) said that sanctions “may also have had an unintended impact on the country’s trade and distribution system”, however it did not “obtain evidence of a direct link between the humanitarian situation in the country and United Nations resolutions”.
North Korean diplomats have regularly been caught conducting illicit business for the purpose of generating funds for the regime. They have been known to use diplomatic privileges in order to conduct such activities and UNSC Resolution 2321 – passed in 2016 – imposed restrictions on diplomats and diplomatic missions overseas.
Resolution 2321 expressed “continued concern that the DPRK is abusing the privileges and immunities accorded under the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations”. It also called for member states to reduce the number of diplomatic staff at North Korean missions and consular posts.
The U.S. has also called for countries to downgrade their diplomatic relations with North Korea and the foreign ministry included criticism of this in its statement and included other details about pressure being applied to its diplomats overseas.
“Except one Latin American country and two or three Asian countries that show signs of attempts to reduce the number of the DPRK diplomats in their countries under the pressure of the U.S., the overwhelming majority of the countries resolutely reject the U.S. demand, regarding it an interference in their internal affairs, or simply ignore it,” the statement read, ignoring that the similar provision in Resolution 2321.
It fails to mention that a European country – Bulgaria – has also done this. Italy also stated in its sanctions implementation report that the acceptance and accreditation of a new DPRK 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.
It added that North Korean diplomatic privileges were not being respected and that its diplomatic passport holders were being subject to luggage searches, with “household items, cosmetics, and even carbonated drinks and (a) children’s bicycle” being seized.
The statement also said that Chinese and Russian companies, unilaterally sanctioned by the U.S., “suffered huge losses in their economic activities and business management as they were unreasonably put on the sanctions list of the U.S.”
The U.S. Department of the Treasury recently sanctioned Russian companies for their involvement in the North Korean oil trade.
The foreign ministry rounded off the tirade vowing to continue to develop its nuclear capabilities, despite the fact that its illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs are the cause for the imposition of UNSC sanctions.
“As the U.S. and other hostile forces get more frantic in the moves to impose the toughest sanctions and pressure on the DPRK, the hatred and rage of the army and people of the country will only grow stronger and the DPRK will further speed up the strengthening of its nuclear force to root out the base of aggression and all evils,” it said.
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