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Korea sanctions-skirting could be defeated by targeting Chinese firms

15 Juin 2017

The report said it was a mistake to think that sanctions could not succeed against a country like North Korea, which was less isolated than it appeared.

North Korea's effort to circumvent worldwide sanctions on its nuclear and missile programs is complex but could be defeated by targeting relatively few Chinese firms, a report said on Monday.

As sanctions have tightened, Pyongyang's overseas networks have become increasingly important, with regime officials learning how to "nest" their illicit activities within apparently legitimate global trade, the report said. Washington is discussing North Korea with all of its allies, and it would top the agenda at high-level talks next week between USA and Chinese officials. The C4ADS report said a relatively small number of Chinese companies - 5,233 - traded with North Korea from 2013-2016, compared with the 67,163 that exported to South Korea.

"The repeated use of the same commercial facilitator across multiple major weapons shipments is indicative of the limited nature of North Korean overseas networks", and highlights how vulnerable they are to targeted sanctions, it said.

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The last report released by C4ADS previous year highlighted the key role played by a prominent Chinese businesswoman and her vast conglomerate, resulting in USA and South Korean sanctions against the firm, Dandong Hongxiang, and specific individuals associated with it.

It quoted experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in the United States as saying the category of goods could cover guidance devices for ballistic missiles. C4ADS said that when the vessel, the Jie Shun, was seized, its registered owner was a firm owned by Sun Sihong, who listed her residential address as an apartment in the same complex as Sun Sidong.

U.S. President Donald Trump has told Chinese President Xi Jinping that the United States will impose sanctions on Chinese companies with links to North Korea's nuclear and missile development if Beijing fails to crack down on such entities, Trump's top diplomat said Wednesday. "Treasury is working with our allies to counter networks that enable North Korea's destabilizing activities, and we urge our global partners to take parallel steps to cut off their funding sources", the spokesman said.