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N. Korea Nuclear Weapons Program Remains Intact, Warn UN Experts

PYONGYANG – UN experts said in a new report that North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs “remain intact” and its leaders are dispersing missile assembly and testing facilities to prevent “decapitation” strikes, AP reported Wednesday.
The experts’ report to the Security Council, seen by AP, says the country continues to defy UN economic sanctions, including through “a massive increase in illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products and coal.”
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – the country’s official name – also continues to violate an arms embargo, a ban on luxury goods and financial sanctions, the experts said.
And the panel said it investigated “the DPRK’s sophisticated cyber attacks” against multiple countries “to evade financial sanctions.”
At their June summit in Singapore, Trump promised “security guarantees” to Pyongyang and Kim recommitted to the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
But there were no signs in the experts’ report that Kim has taken any steps toward eliminating his nuclear arsenal or intercontinental ballistic missiles, which he boasted could reach the US mainland.
“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs remain intact,” the experts said.
“The panel found that the DPRK is using civilian facilities, including airports, for ballistic missile assembly and testing with the goal of effectively preventing ‘decapitation’ strikes,” the report said.
The experts said they are continuing to investigate companies, entities and individuals in Asia that are on the UN sanctions blacklist and “clandestinely procured centrifuges for the DPRK’s nuclear program” — and that attempted to sell “a wide range of military equipment to armed groups and governments in the Middle East and Africa.”
The panel painted a picture of continuing wide-ranging efforts by North Korea to evade UN sanctions.
A huge increase in ship-to-ship transfers “render the latest United Nations sanctions ineffective by flouting the caps on the DPRK’s import of petroleum products and crude oil as well as the coal ban imposed in 2017 by the Security Council in response to the DPRK’s unprecedented nuclear and ballistic missile testing,” the experts said.
One unnamed country said North Korea obtained more than the cap of 500,000 barrels of refined petroleum products in 2018, but another unnamed country questioned the figure, the experts said.
Individuals acting on behalf of North Korean financial institutions are operating in at least five countries “with seeming impunity,” it said.
The Reconnaissance General Bureau, the North Korean intelligence agency that conducts clandestine operations, continues to transfer funds from closed accounts in the European Union to those in Asian financial institutions, the panel said.
The experts said the global operations of the companies Glocom and MKP continued despite the panel’s past reporting on their illegal activities, “and show the ongoing use of overseas companies and individuals to obfuscate income generating activities for the DPRK regime.”
They said that “DPRK diplomats continue to play a key role in financial sanctions evasion” along with representatives of companies and other entities on the sanctions blacklist, including by controlling accounts in multiple countries and using the names of family members and front companies.
“DPRK diplomats continue to travel under false accreditation in their passports,” the panel said, “and have also facilitated the country’s efforts to illegally export large quantities of coal through trans-shipment to disguise the origin.”
(Sahar News/Monitoring Desk)

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