The U.S. Department of Treasury on Friday released an advisory detailing North Korea’s maritime sanction evasion techniques, risk mitigation strategies, and ways to report suspicious DPRK vessel activity to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The 10-page document – which accompanied a new set of North Korea sanctions issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) – also included a list of DPRK ships breaking UN sanctions and a summary of U.S. and UN maritime prohibitions.
“The North Korean shipping industry is a primary means by which North Korea evades sanctions to fund its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs,” the advisory reads.
In the document, the U.S. Treasury Department in conjunction with the Department of State and the Coast Guard outline the North’s deceptive practices which enable it to circumvent maritime sanctions.
According to the advisory, DPRK affiliated vessels employ various techniques including altering their vessel identification information, falsifying cargo documents, disabling their tracking transponders and manipulation their location broadcasts.
The document also cites a developing North Korean trend of transferring fuel cargos at sea, a practice banned by the UN Security Council in September last year.
Recent reports from Japan, South Korea and the U.S. all indicate that several of North Korea’s oil tankers are involved in the ship to ship (STS) transfers of fuel products at sea.
“North Korea operates a fleet of 24 tankers capable of engaging in STS transfers of refined petroleum products and other banned goods,” the advisory reads, while also including a map of where the some of the transfers are carried out and a list of the DPRK vessels that could be involved in the practice.
The advisory also includes a set of proposals to mitigate risk including enhanced monitoring of vessel positions, reviewing ship documentation, better international communication and more effective use of existing resources.
Lastly, the document lays out possible penalties for violating OFAC sanctions on North Korea, and available UN and U.S. resources to help with sanctions enforcement. The advisory links to a list of all DPRK-flagged vessels compiled by the U.S. Coast Guard and even a new email address to report North Korean shipping violations.
The advisory was released in conjunction with a new set of sanctions which targeted North Korea’s maritime industry and the country’s oil tankers. The new measures are intended to limit the increasing numbers of STS transfers.
“We will do everything to stop these ship-to-ship transfers,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during an accompanying press briefing held at the White House on Friday.
Featured image: U.S. Department of Treasury
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