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View more articles by Chad O'Carroll
Chad O'Carroll has written on North Korea since 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.
Chinese President Xi Jinping this week rode with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a luxury Mercedes Benz sedan which the United Nations said in March had been “illicitly obtained” by Pyongyang, photos from the summit showed on Friday.
Xi was photographed in both North Korean and Chinese state media riding through the streets of Pyongyang adjacent to Kim Jong Un, waving at local citizens from an open-topped Mercedes custom-converted S Class.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in rode in the same vehicle when he visited Pyongyang last September, with the UN’s Panel of Experts (PoE) stating in March that it had subsequently written to Seoul to obtain further details about the vehicle, which it described as part of a fleet of “illicitly obtained Mercedes-Benz limousines”.
But the PoE’s publication of a photo of Moon adjacent to Kim in the same vehicle sparked upset in Seoul when it was included in their annual sanctions report last March, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo said at the time.
The Mercedes is one of several luxury-class vehicles owned by North Korea which have found notoriety in the summits and high-level diplomatic exchanges of the past 18 months, due to representing likely violations of UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions.
Luxury goods were first banned from export to North Korea under UNSC Resolution 1718 passed in 2006, with “luxury automobiles (and motor vehicles)” explicitly prohibited after Resolution 2094 passed in March 2013.
“Chairman Kim’s expanding inventory of European and U.S.-manufactured or customized luxury and up-armored limousines represents the most obvious series of flagrant sanctions violations to date,” Hugh Griffiths, who previously coordinated the UN’s Panel of Experts on DPRK issues, told Fox News about the cars in March.
“This is because these vehicles are quite literally paraded at foreign summits, diplomatic meetings and other high-profile events in Singapore, Pyongyang and elsewhere.”
“This is no clandestine activity taking place on the high seas, or at night, as is often the case with the illegal ship-to-ship transfers of coal or petroleum,” he continued. “(Yet) these vehicles are being paraded in front of the world’s media.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: KCNA