Wine and Diamonds: How North Korea Dodges Sanctions
The United Nations detailed on Friday how North Korea gets around international sanctions designed to hobble the government and its nuclear weapons program. President Trump, after accepting an invitation last week to meet personally this spring with the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, said that sanctions would remain in place during any talks.
But the United Nations report shows just how difficult it is for governments to police North Korea and how widespread illicit trade with it is. The experts who compiled the report detailed violations across several countries.
“It’s really kind of remarkable the scope of activities they are engaging in,” said Peter Harrell, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, adding, “It brings home the fact that the North Korean tentacles still do have some global reach.”
“他们所参与活动的范围确实有些令人震惊，”华盛顿新美国安全中心(Center for a New American Security)的兼职高级研究员彼得·哈勒尔(Peter Harrell)说道，并补充，“这清楚地表明，朝鲜还有着一些国际影响。”
Here are some sanctions violations detailed in the report.
Diamonds and Wine
One of the more eyebrow-raising examples described: Between January and June of last year, India exported $514,823 in diamonds to North Korea, along with other precious metals and stones.
Other luxury goods that have made it to North Korea: sparkling wine and spirits from Germany, wine and vermouth from Italy, and perfume and cosmetics from Bulgaria. A Singapore-based company has been stocking department stores in Pyongyang, the capital, with luxury items from Japan and Europe.
North Koreans have mastered “how to smuggle sanctioned items,” said Jay Song, a senior lecturer in Korean studies at the Asia Institute at the University of Melbourne in Australia. “Ironically, however, these trades, legal and illegal, grow the North Korean middle class, who then grow grievances against the authorities. They are also highly corrupt.”
朝鲜已经掌握了“偷运制裁物品的方法”，澳大利亚墨尔本大学(University of Melbourne)亚洲学院朝鲜研究高级讲师宋杰(Jay Song)说。“然而，讽刺的是，这些合法或非法的交易会使朝鲜的中间阶层发展壮大，而他们随后会对当局心生不满。他们也是极其腐败的。”
Coal and Steel
Mounting a ballistic missile and nuclear weapons program is not cheap. The report shows that the isolated country continues to sell commodities to United Nations member countries, even though sanctions prohibit such transactions. According to the panel, North Korea generated nearly $200 million between January and September 2017 by exporting “almost all the commodities prohibited in the resolutions.”
Its largest export was coal; the report concluded that North Korea exported $413.6 million in coal in that time frame — $12.7 million above the United Nations cap. North Korea also sold $62.1 million in iron and steel, exports that violated sanctions.
Using front companies, manipulations of automated signals that radar systems use to detect global shipments, and ship-to-ship transfers in the middle of the night, North Korea was able to “give the impression that the coal was loaded in ports other than in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” the report said.
Still, “We’re really forcing the North Koreans to jump through hoops,” said Andrea Berger, a senior research associate and senior program manager at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif.
然而，“我们实际上是在迫使朝鲜人历经周折，”加利福尼亚蒙特雷詹姆斯·马丁不扩散研究中心(James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies)高级项目主管、高级副研究员安德丽亚·伯格(Andrea Berger)说。
“North Koreans are literally physically concealing the identity of ships at night and doing ship-to-ship transfers,” she said. “That’s not something you do unless you have to.”
Financial Transactions Abroad
North Korean firms and individuals, utilizing front companies and working with foreign citizens, have opened bank accounts around the world.
The report said some of the country’s banks “maintain a network of overseas representatives who continue to move freely across borders to undertake transactions in multiple countries and to establish residences abroad.”
The experts found that many banks do not scrutinize account holders closely enough. It cited a “major European bank” that failed to verify answers that a representative of the Korea Daesong Bank gave to a questionnaire to screen for money laundering and ignored the fact that the account applicant appeared in a financial-crimes database.
专家们发现，许多银行并没有对账户持有者进行足够仔细的审查。该报告提到“欧洲的一家大银行”没有核实朝鲜大成银行(Korea Daesong bank)的一名代表对一份筛查洗钱的调查问卷的回答，而且忽视了该账户的申请者曾出现在金融犯罪数据库中。
‘Destabilizing’ Arms Sales
As previously reported, the experts contend that North Korea has shipped supplies to the Syrian government that could be used in the production of chemical weapons. The report also detailed sales of ballistic missile systems, multiple rocket launchers and surface-to-air missiles to Myanmar.
These arms sales are concerning not only because they help the North raise money, but because of “the inherently destabilizing nature of military cooperation that looks like this,” Ms. Berger said.
Surveillance and Hacking
North Korea has become a well-known state actor in surveillance and hacking. The report detailed an incident in which the North sent a drone toward a military facility in Seongju, South Korea, and snapped 555 photographs. The drone crashed because of an engine malfunction and was recovered by South Korean intelligence.
The report also indicated that some of the email accounts of the United Nations experts had been hacked or that the North had tried to hack their accounts.
Stealthy Imports of Oil
Last December, the United Nations Security Council tightened sanctions against North Korea by cutting the amount of refined petroleum it can import each year by 89 percent.
Yet the experts found that North Korea had developed a sophisticated network of intermediaries willing to help it procure oil.
“If anything, the sanctions are making it more lucrative for these intermediaries,” said John Nilsson-Wright, a senior research fellow at the London-based Chatham House at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, because North Korea will pay a higher price to circumvent the sanctions.
英国皇家国际事务研究所(Royal Institute of International Affairs)伦敦查塔姆研究所(Chatham House)高级研究员约翰·尼尔森-怀特(John Nilsson-Wright)表示，“如果说这些制裁产生了什么影响的话，那就是，这些中间人赚了更多的钱”，因为朝鲜为了逃避制裁会支付更高的价格。