The US and allies plan to launch a new effort to expose North Korean violations of sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear and missile programs, according to a news report Thursday.
The new effort will make the public more aware of steps taken by the US and its allies to enforce the UN sanctions against North Korea, particularly the monitoring of ships illicitly transferring refined petroleum to North Korean oil tankers in the East China Sea, CNN reported, citing two defense officials.
The UN Security Council imposed sanctions on North Korea in August last year, banning exports of coal from the North along with other minerals to cut off an important source of the foreign currency Pyongyang needs to fund its nuclear weapons program.
But several cases of illicit shipments of banned items have been reported. A recent investigation found that three South Korean companies had brought in North Korean coal and pig iron disguised as Russian products, possible violations of international sanctions.
North Korea employs “deceptive tactics to evade UN sanctions,” but the US has not been very public about its military activities to detect and disrupt the North’s illicit smuggling as it wants to avoid irritating Pyongyang amid the ongoing denuclearization talks, according to the report.
The reported plan comes as denuclearization talks appear to be at a stalemate and US President Donald Trump recently raised the possibility of a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Japan, Australia and New Zealand are expected to make announcements about their own monitoring and surveillance efforts, and other allies -- Canada, France, South Korea and the United Kingdom -- are also involved in coordinating these efforts, according to the report.
“We’ll do whatever we have to do to support the diplomats in the negotiation, and carry out the UN, the international sanctions,” Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis was quoted as saying.
Despite the ongoing engagement with North Korea, South Korea and the US have stressed that sanctions on North Korea will remain in place until Pyongyang denuclearizes.
A spokesperson with the Foreign Ministry in Seoul said there was nothing it could confirm concerning the report.
By Ock Hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org)