More Than 40 Countries Call Out North Korea for Violating Sanctions

The flag of North Korea is seen in Geneva
July 24, 2020

More than 40 countries condemned North Korea’s alleged violation of a United Nations-mandated petroleum import cap, Reuters reported Friday.

The U.N. Security Council issued an annual cap of 500,000 oil barrels in 2017, in an attempt to halt Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear development programs. The Kim regime ran afoul of this cap by a large margin—standing at 1.6 million barrels in the first five months, according to an estimate by the United Kingdom and France.

Accordingly, some 43 U.N. countries, including the United States, signed on to a complaint calling for member states to "immediately exercise enhanced vigilance regarding the DPRK attempting to procure additional refined petroleum products and to prevent illicit ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum products to vessels owned, controlled, or acting on behalf of or working in cooperation with [North Korea]."

"If [North Korea] is able to flagrantly evade international sanctions, it will have little incentive to engage in serious negotiations," the complaint added.

This would not be the first time Pyongyang flouted international sanctions. A Wednesday New York Times report noted North Korea’s policy of benign neglect—even covert encouragement—of the Chinese fishing industry. Chinese boats violated international sanctions by fishing for squid in North Korean waters, offering kickback funds for fishing rights to Pyongyang. Chinese vessels brought home $560 million in 2017 due to these illegal practices.

North Korea’s behavior this year has been especially hawkish toward world powers. Earlier this month, the Kim regime refused to meet with American envoys soon after destroying a liaison building used to converse with South Korean counterparts. 

Meanwhile, Washington is actively considering troop adjustments in South Korea in an attempt to increase its flexibility and its changing strategic priorities.

"The government in Pyongyang is looking to establish a new normal," warned American Enterprise Institute scholar Nicholas Eberstadt earlier this year. "The United States’ only option for precluding this nightmare is to bring down the hammer on the Kim regime before its capabilities expand even further."