WASHINGTON -- The United States possesses various means to hold to account any country that violates United Nations Security Council resolutions on North Korea, a state department spokesperson said Monday, amid reports that trade between North Korea and China may have returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Vedant Patel, deputy spokesperson for the state department, declined to provide a direct comment on potential violations of UNSC resolutions by China but insisted every UN member country has the obligation to uphold sanctions against North Korea.
"There, of course, are sanctions in place with the DPRK through the UN Security Council," the spokesperson told a daily press briefing, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"I am not going to get into specifics here whether such an action is a deviation of a sanction or not, but broadly. both in holding the DPRK accountable and holding accountable countries that attempt to subvert sanctions or bolster the DPRK's destabilizing efforts, the US will continue to have a number of tools at its disposal to hold them accountable," he added.
China's customs office said last month that the country's bilateral trade with North Korea jumped 161 percent from a year earlier to over US$158.4 million in March.
In the first quarter of the year, China-North Korea trade came to about $485.8 million, spiking 147 percent from the same period a year earlier and accounting for nearly 95 percent of pre-pandemic levels, according to data released by the Chinese customs office.
Earlier reports also suggested that North Korea may be preparing to lift its border closure with China.
Patel insisted that "countries who have influence and engagements with the DPRK have a role to play when it comes to curtailing their destabilizing activities that we see so frequently in the Indo-Pacific region."
"Of course, one of those countries is the PRC," he added, referring to China by its formal name, the People's Republic of China.
North Korea fired nearly 100 missiles since the start of last year, including 69 ballistic missiles in 2022 that marked a new record of ballistic missiles launched in a single year. (Yonhap)