Over 1200 North Koreans were granted permits to work in Mongolia in 2017, the government’s mission to the UN reported in a sanctions implementation report made public this week.
The report, dated December 26, comes in response to the passage of UNSC Resolution 2375, unanimously adopted on September 11 last year.
The resolution dictates that Member States are prohibited from granting work permits to North Korean nationals, but this provision does not apply to such authorizations for which written contracts were finalized prior to September 11.
“Mongolia has been in strict compliance with paragraph 17 of resolution 2375 (2017), regarding work authorizations for DPRK nationals,” the report reads.
It goes on to identify the quotas of North Korean work authorizations allowed to be issued in Mongolia over the past two years, which stood at 3858 in 2015, 2483 in 2016 and a total of 2338 in 2017.
“Although the total number of work authorizations for DPRK workers, set by the relevant Government resolution, stands at 2,338 for 2017, as at 1 November 2017 relevant authorities had granted work permits to 1,221 DPRK nationals only,” the report said, adding that no new authorizations will be added.
The data issued by the government confirms earlier reports regarding the number of DPRK workers authorized to work in the country last year.
The implementation report also said that the government of Mongolia had expelled 200 North Korean workers in 2016.
While Resolution 2375 imposed restrictions on work authorizations, Resolution 2397, adopted on December 22, 2017, decided that Member States must repatriate all DPRK nationals earning income in their jurisdiction no later than 24 months from the date of adoption.
The resolution argues that “the revenue generated from DPRK workers overseas, among others, contribute to the DPRK’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.”
Member States must also provide a midterm report after 15 months listing all North Korean nationals that were repatriated in the first year from the adoption date.
This includes, if applicable, “an explanation of why less than half of such DPRK nationals were repatriated by the end of that 12 month period”.
Despite these provisions that may allow for work authorizations to continue until 2019, Mongolia also indicated in its implementation report that all such work agreements will expire much sooner.
“The work authorizations for which written contracts had been finalized prior to the adoption of resolution 2375 (2017) will continue until 1 June 2018,” it reads.
“On 3 June 2018, the agreement on the exchange of labour between the Government of Mongolia and the Government of DPRK will expire.”
The Government, it says, is also working with the North Korean embassy in Ulaanbaatar to “organize the orderly withdrawal of the DPRK workers”.
Aside from adhering to sanctions on DPRK labor overseas, Mongolia also revealed that it has identified 20 joint ventures with North Korea.
Resolution 2375 prohibits the operation of all joint ventures with DPRK entities or individuals.
“The relevant authorities were instructed to close all joint ventures and cooperative entities operating in Mongolia by 8 February 2018 in accordance with paragraph 18 of resolution 2375 (2017),” the report says.
Despite noting its sanctions compliance, Mongolia does not appear to be distancing itself from its historically good relations with the DPRK.
Last week saw the Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs Damdin Tsogtbaatar wrap up a three-day visit to North Korea.
According to DPRK state media, Tsogtbaatar agreed to maintain ongoing diplomatic relations with North Korea.
“At the talks both sides exchanged views on the issue of continuing to develop the long-standing friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries in several fields,” a Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report said of Tsogtbaatar’s meeting with DPRK foreign minister Ri Yong Ho on February 6.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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