September 26, 2023

Technical disputes over North Korea sanctions violations return in UN report

Different interpretations of UN resolutions create space for countries to trade possibly banned goods with Pyongyang

Several U.N. member states accused of trading banned goods with North Korea in 2021 have countered that the activity was legal, customs data in an upcoming U.N. report shows, underscoring long-running technical disputes that have weakened sanctions enforcement against Pyongyang.

According to a draft of an upcoming U.N. Panel of Experts report on North Korea, 46 countries are believed to have imported or exported prohibited goods to or from North Korea, such as coal, iron and steel. While at least 10 of those countries told the Panel that the seemingly illegal trade was due to data entry errors, several countries argued that U.N. resolutions didn’t prohibit trade of certain goods — and they might have a point.