UN extends work of experts monitoring North Korea sanctions
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Security Council voted unanimously Wednesday to extend the mandate for U.N. experts monitoring sanctions against North Korea.
The resolution adopted Wednesday emphasizes "the importance of credible, fact-based, independent assessments, analysis, and recommendations" by the experts, who recently reported that Pyongyang is flouting embargoes by sending Syria banned items for ballistic missiles and chemical weapons. Their work was extended until April 24, 2019.
Britain's deputy U.N. ambassador Jonathan Allen praised the panel saying it was "able to see the ways in which the North Koreans try and evade sanctions and to very systematically close those down one by one."
Allen said "it's that pressure from sanctions, and the enforcement from sanctions, that have brought us to this moment where there is a political opportunity in North Korea."
The Security Council has imposed successively tougher sanctions against North Korea to try to halt and eventually eliminate its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Last week, U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster said the Trump administration intends to keep up maximum pressure on North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un until there is "real progress" toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to meet Kim by May to talk about denuclearization.
In its latest report, the panel said its investigations into Pyongyang's transfer of prohibited ballistic missile systems, conventional arms and dual use goods found more than 40 previously unreported shipments to Syria between 2012 and 2017.
The experts said North Korea also sent banned missile systems to Myanmar.
Pyongyang is flouting U.N. sanctions on oil and gas and illegally exporting commodities that brought in nearly $200 million in just nine months last year, the panel said.
In addition, North Korea is still able to access the global financial system through "deceptive practices combined with critical deficiencies in the implementation of financial sanctions," the experts said, noting it continues to engage in "widespread conventional arms deals and cyber operations to steal military secrets."