What's In Blue

Briefing on the Work of the 1718 Sanctions Committee

This afternoon (29 August), the chair of the 1718 Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Christoph Heusgen (Germany), will brief Council members in consultations on the work of the committee during the past three months.

The meeting this afternoon is expected to focus on sanctions and committee-related technical issues, although some Council members might use this opportunity to raise broader issues regarding the DPRK.

As mandated by resolution 2464, the Panel of Experts circulated its midterm report to the sanctions committee in early August. On Monday, the committee discussed the report which should be circulated to the Council by 6 September, if approved by all members. While the report is still under the consideration of the committee and meant to be confidential, some of its findings have been leaked to the press. According to media reports, the Panel has found that the DPRK has continued to violate Council-mandated sanctions using evolving and innovative methods. The Panel reportedly found that the DPRK had been particularly active in using cyberattacks to force illegal transfers of funds from financial institutions. These activities reportedly earned the regime around $2 billion. The report also apparently notes that data provided by some members indicate that the DPRK has continued to engage in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products in breach of the annual cap of 500,000 barrels. These issues also featured in the Panel’s last report published on 5 March (S/2019/171).

In June, the US raised the issue of illicit ship-to-ship transfers with the chair of the Sanctions Committee in a letter that was co-signed by two dozen UN members, including Japan and the Republic of Korea. A report was attached to the letter apparently containing evidence of the DPRK’s breach of petroleum import limits.  The US has requested that the Committee issue statements that would inform member states about the DPRK’s breach and call on members to enforce sanctions. It appears that China and Russia blocked the Committee from addressing this issue, claiming that the evidence provided is inconclusive.

Today’s meeting takes place against the backdrop of a series of missile tests conducted by the DPRK over the past few weeks, with the most recent conducted over the past weekend. This marks the seventh missile test by the DPRK since the June meeting between US President Donald Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong-un.

The Council held two meetings under “any other business” on this issue on 1 August and 27 August. In a stakeout following the second meeting, the Council members that initiated both meetings – France, Germany and the UK – condemned the launches and emphasised that they constituted a violation of Security Council resolutions. They called on the DPRK to take concrete steps towards complete denuclearisation and engage in meaningful negotiations with the US. Furthermore, they stressed the importance of maintaining and enforcing sanctions until the DPRK has dismantled its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

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