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Leaked UN Reports Show Countries Bypassing Sanctions on North Korea

An unpublished United Nations report showed several countries bypassing legal prohibitions on financial activity with North Korea, allowing the regime to earn money while developing a nuclear arsenal.

The report, obtained by CBS News, blames “lax enforcement” as well as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s “evolving evasion techniques” for “undermining” the intent of sanctions intended to halt the country’s nuclear program. African countries, such as Eritrea and Namibia, dominated the list of nations that were assisting the regime.

The report detailed how the illicit financial activity took place:

“The DPRK continues to violate the financial sanctions by stationing agents abroad to execute financial transactions on behalf of DPRK entities. Financial institutions in number Member States wittingly and unwittingly have provided correspondent banking services to DPRK front companies and individuals engaged in prohibited activities. Moreover, foreign companies maintain links with PRK financial institutions established as subsidiaries or joint ventures in violation of the resolutions. Involvement of DPRK diplomatic personnel in commercial activities and the leasing of embassy property generate substantial revenue and are aided by multiple deceptive financial practices.”

News of the report followed a call by the U.S. to further penalize North Korea after it launched a missile over northern Japan two weeks ago. But as indicated to CBS News, additional sanctions might prove ineffective if the U.N. doesn’t better its enforcement process.

A Treasury Department senior sanctions adviser, Hal Eren, told CBS News that “[i]f sanctions are not enforced — and there is recognition of that by entities doing business with North Korea — the intended sanctions pressure will not materialize.”

While some analysts speculate that “naming and shaming” complicit nations could be effective, one scholar argued secondary sanctions on those nations could close some of the gaps in enforcement efforts.

“Secondary sanctions, by directly punishing those who do business with North Korea, could significantly tighten the economic screws,” Matthew Waxman, faculty chair of the program on Law and National Security at Columbia Law School, said.