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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.
U.S. President Donald Trump in New York on Wednesday told the UN Security Council (UNSC) that sanctions against North Korea will stay in place until it denuclearizes and that prohibited ship-to-ship transfers “must stop immediately.”
The President made the comments while chairing the UNSC for a special meeting on non-proliferation and while praising diplomatic developments with North Korea, though stressing that the council must enforce existing resolutions in order to continue progress.
“We have detected that some nations are already violating these UN sanctions, this includes illegal ship-to-ship transfers, which must end immediately,” Trump said.
“The safety of the Korean Peninsula, the region, and the world depends on full compliance with UN Security Council resolutions. Very, very important,” he added.
Ship-to-ship (STS) transfers are prohibited from taking place pursuant to UNSC Resolution 2397 adopted on December 22, 2017.
Resolution 2397 noted “with great concern that the DPRK is illicitly exporting coal and other prohibited items through deceptive maritime practices and obtaining petroleum illegally through ship-to-ship transfers” when issuing the prohibition.
July then saw the U.S. provide the UN with data that indicated North Korea had conducted as many as 89 STS transfers between January and May 2018.
The report claimed that North Korea had, therefore, exceeded refined petroleum importation caps also imposed on the country, and urged the suspension of all oil transfers to the DPRK.
But Russia and China blocked the request, and public reporting from the Government of Japan indicates continuing STS transfers involving North Korean vessels.
Multiple other representatives from member states speaking at the UNSC on Wednesday also endorsed ongoing sanctions enforcement, including French President Emmanuel Macron.
While welcoming diplomatic developments, Macron said that Pyongyang should show concrete actions to denuclearize in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner.
“Our dialogue has to accompanied by rigorous implementation of the sanctions decided upon by the council,” Macron told the Council.
“At no point should the security council lose sight of the fact that North Korea continues to represent a nuclear and ballistic threat for the region and for the world.”
UK Prime Minister Theresa May also said sanctions pressure on North Korea must continue until denuclearization takes place adding that full implementation of existing resolutions must be taken by North Korea’s “neighbors.”
This includes referencing the suspension of North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile tests, the release of U.S. citizens from North Korean custody, and the partial return of U.S. MIA/POW remains as diplomatic successes.
The U.S. President also used his UNGA speech to thank North Korea leader Kim Jong Un for showing “courage” and taking steps to advance bilateral relations.
“I believe that Chairman Kim Jong Un, a man I have gotten to know and like, wants peace and prosperity for North Korea,” Trump said.
The President in his comments at the Security Council also said Kim had reiterated his commitment to denuclearization in a “very strong letter” to the President, which he received last week.
“Many things are happening behind the scenes away from the media, which nobody knows, but they are happening nevertheless and they are happening in a very positive way.”
Featured Image: Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force