New UN and US sanctions on North Korea, all cargoes to be inspected

Yesterday’s action by the UN Security Council has dramatically strengthened the international sanctions regime on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Resolution 2270, passed in a 15-0 vote by Security Council members, includes a series of new and enhanced measures made in response to the DPRK’s January nuclear test and ongoing missile-related activities.

The most important of the new Security Council measures is a requirement that all UN member states check all cargo bound for or originating in the DPRK. Under previous Security Council resolutions, states were only required to conduct such inspections where a reasonable suspicion existed that cargo contained prohibited items, such as heavy weapons or luxury goods. This new measure, if enforced appropriately, should greatly constrain the DPRK’s ability to conduct illicit trade.

Challenges will remain in ensuring that customs and other national authorities are able to adequately implement this cargo inspection requirement. A particular burden will fall upon China, location of the DPRK’s key external trade hubs. Capacity-building efforts to strengthen customs capabilities in the Chinese border cities of Dandong and Dalian will be essential to ensuring the success of the new resolution.

Other key measures of the new resolution include:

  • A prohibition on the DPRK’s export of various commodities including coal, iron ore, gold and rare earth minerals;
  • A prohibition on the sale of aviation fuel to the DPRK;
  • A prohibition on foreign banks establishing or maintaining correspondent relationships with DPRK banks, and a requirement that states close any such relationships; and
  • A prohibition on the establishment of new branches of DPRK banks abroad.

The complete resolution is available here.

In parallel with the Security Council’s action, the United States Treasury and United States Department of State also designated a number of additional North Korean entities for their roles in supporting the DPRK’s nuclear and missile programmes.

The designated entities include Ambassador Pak Chun Il, the DPRK’s senior representative in Egypt, who the State Department says has provided support to a UN-designated North Korean weapons-trading firm, KOMID. The US has also designated two other alleged KOMID representatives in Egypt, Kim Song Chol and Son Jong Hyok, who have reportedly conducted KOMID business in Sudan.

In light of these designations, alleged North Korean proliferation activity in Egypt and Sudan may come under increased scrutiny. A new report by the UN’s Panel of Experts, due for release soon, has reportedly found that the DPRK has attempted to ship components of Scud-B missiles to Egypt. The end-user of these components is unknown.

The new US measures are available via the State Department and Treasury.