North Korea exported coal to South Korean and Japan through Russia even after UN sanctions went into effect last year imposing a full-scale embargo on North Korean coal, a Reuters report claims. The report on Jan. 26 cited three anonymous Western European intelligence sources as confirming that North Korea had loaded coal last year onto boats to Russia, from which it was transported to South Korea and Japan in a “likely violation of UN sanctions.”
According to the report, North Korea used the Russia ports of Nakhodka and Kholmsk to transport coal on at least three occasions last year after the UNSC banned exports of coal and other items with the Aug. 5 passage of Resolution 2371. The coal carried by the North Korean vessels was unloaded at the Russian ports and moved to other ships that then travelled to South Korea or Japan, the sources said.
A Western shipping source was quoted by Reuters as claiming that some of the cargoes reached Japan and South Korea last year.
“Reuters could not independently verify whether the coal unloaded at the Russian docks was the same coal that was then shipped to South Korea and Japan,” the report added.
It also cautioned that it was “unable to ascertain whether the owners of the vessels that sailed from Russia to South Korea and Japan knew the origin of the coal.”
At the same time, the report noted that the US Treasury Department had added the owner of one of the ships, the Ul Ji Bong 6, to a list of sanction targets on Jan. 24 after the vessel delivered North Korean coal to Kholmsk on Sept. 5.
Reuters added that it had contacted the Russian Foreign Ministry on Jan. 18 to request confirmation, but received no reply.
By Jeon Jeong-yun, staff reporter