UNITED NATIONS: North Korea illegally exported coal, iron and other commodities worth at least $270 million to China and other countries including India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka in the six-month period ending in early August in violation of U.N. sanctions, U.N. experts say.
The experts monitoring sanctions said in a report released Saturday that Kim Jong Un's government continues to flout sanctions on commodities as well as an arms embargo and restrictions on shipping and financial activities.
They said North Korea is also reportedly continuing prohibited nuclear activities with weapons-grade fissile material production at the Yongbyon nuclear complex, construction and maintenance at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, and at a uranium mine in Pyongsan.
The eight-member panel of experts said it is also investigating the widespread presence of North Koreans in Africa and the Middle East, particularly in Syria, "including their involvement in prohibited activities."
The experts said one inquiry is into "reported prohibited chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms cooperation" between Syria and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the country's official name. They said this includes activities on Syrian Scud missile programs and "maintenance and repair of Syrian surface-to-air missiles (SAM) air defence systems."
The panel noted that two unnamed countries reported intercepting shipments destined for Syria. It did not identify the contents and said Syria has yet to respond to its inquiries.
The 111-page report was written before North Korea's sixth and most powerful nuclear test last Sunday and its latest launch of a powerful new intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan.
It was made public two days before the United States has called for a vote on a new sanctions resolution. The original U.S. draft would impose the toughest-ever sanctions on North Korea including banning all oil and natural gas exports to the country and freezing all foreign financial assets of the government and its leader Kim Jong Un.
The experts said implementation of existing sanctions "lags far behind what is necessary to achieve the core goal of denuclearization" of the Korean peninsula.
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