New North Korean Sanctions Stop the “Humanitarian” Coal Trade

Like I have said before these sanctions are only as good as they are enforced:

A North Korean military officer, right, and another North Korean stand behind a pile of coal Dec. 14, 2012, along the banks of the Yalu River in the northeast of the North Korean border town of Siniuju. (Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images)

The United Nations Security Council voted Saturday for the third time in two years to block countries from buying North Korean coal, the country’s primary export, in a move intended to choke off funding from Kim Jong Un’s weapons programs.

The new ban plugs a loophole that allowed North Korea to sell coal to China under the guise of “humanitarian” trade, even though much of North Korea’s coal trade has been devoted to weapons development, not humanitarian purposes, according to recent U.S. court filings.

The humanitarian loophole was large enough that after the first such U.N. ban in March 2016, Chinese companies actually imported more North Korean coal.  [Washington Post]

You can read more at the link.

North Korea Threatens to Turn US Into a “Sea of Fire” After Passing of New Sanctions

North Korea’s propaganda department needs to come up with a new term to describe the destruction of the United States.  The “Sea of Fire” term has been quite over used by now:

Nuclear action or sanctions taken by Washington against Pyongyang will lead to a “sea of fire” engulfing the U.S. mainland, a North Korean newspaper said in its Sunday edition printed before the United Nations’ adoption of a new sanctions resolution against the reclusive country.

“The day the U.S. dares tease our nation with a nuclear rod and sanctions, the mainland U.S. will be catapulted into an unimaginable sea of fire,” the North’s ruling-party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said in an article.

The article was printed as the U.N. Security Council adopted its Resolution 2371. However, the piece could still portend North Korea’s fierce reaction to come over the international sanctions drafted by the United States.

In the article titled “North Korea should reverse its policy,” the mouthpiece newspaper for the regime said, “Besides completely dumping its frayed hostile policy toward North Korea, the only choice for the U.S is self-destruction.

“The more the Trump gang strives to break out of today’s quagmire, the more our military and people get aroused, giving more reasons for the (North Korean) republic to own nuclear weapons,” the comment also said.

“A strong war deterrence is an essential strategic choice of national defense for our people who went through a horrendous war.”  [Yonhap]

By the way the sanctions ban North Korean exports of coal, iron and iron ore and restrict the overseas sales of lead, seafood and labor.  Just like all the past resolutions these sanctions are only as good as they are enforced and I am very skeptical that China and Russia will strongly enforce them.

US Prosecutors are Seeking to Seize Money from Chinese Companies Doing Business with North Korea

North Korea is getting money and the parts to build their nuclear weapons and missiles from somewhere.  Going after the Kim regime’s money network and part suppliers is something that the US can unilaterally do, but has not aggressively pursued because many of the front companies assisting the Kim regime are based in China.  It appears the Trump administration has now lost patience with the Chinese government and may start aggressively targeting these Chinese companies and the banks assisting them:

U.S. authorities have tried to seize millions of dollars associated with several companies that deal with North Korea, including the country’s military, from eight large international banks, according to court filings made public on Thursday.

The effort was revealed two days after North Korea tested a long-range missile capable of reaching Alaska, ratcheting up tensions with the United States and adding to worries about North Korea leader Kim Jong Un’s nuclear weapons plans.

Thursday’s filings show that Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the federal court in Washington, D.C. on May 22 granted U.S. prosecutors’ applications for “damming” seizure warrants against Bank of America Corp, Bank of New York Mellon Corp, Citigroup Inc, Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Standard Chartered Plc and Wells Fargo & Co.

Prosecutors believe the banks have processed more than $700 million of “prohibited” transactions on behalf of entities tied to North Korea since 2009, including the period after Donald Trump was elected U.S. president, the filings show.

Some of the transactions were processed for Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Material Co and four affiliated “front” companies that prosecutors said tried to evade sanctions through transactions that would benefit North Korean entities, “including the North Korea military and North Korea weapons programs,” according to the filings.  [Reuters]

You can read more at the link, but for the Kim regime $700 million is a lot of money.  Long time ROK Heads may remember how much the Kim regime got worked up when $25 million was seized from the Macau Bank, Banco Delta Asia.  This seizure caused the Kim regime to actually come to the bargaining table and make some major concessions to get their money back.

Trade Between North Korea and China Grows Despite Sanctions

This was all predictable, but President Trump is right that he had to at least try:

President Donald Trump expressed frustration with China on Wednesday for failing to do more to cut off support to North Korea and exert pressure to curb its nuclear pursuits.

North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile test this week demonstrated a dangerous new reach for weapons it hopes to top with nuclear warheads one day. The launch is spurring U.S. demands for global action to counter the threat.

Since he entered the White House, Trump has talked about confronting Pyongyang and pushing China to increase pressure on the North, but neither strategy has produced fast results. Trump had expressed optimism after his first meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping that the two would work together to curb North Korea’s nuclear program.

Moments before he departed for Poland, Trump chastised China on Twitter.

“Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter,” the president tweeted. “So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!”

In his initial response to the launch on Monday evening, Trump urged China on Twitter to “put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!” But he also said it was “hard to believe” that South Korea and Japan, the two U.S. treaty allies most at risk from North Korea, would “put up with this much longer.”  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

How Clothing Made In China May Have Actually Been Manufactured In North Korea

Remember this the next time you buy clothes “Made in China”, you may be unknowingly supporting the Kim Jong-un regime:

North Koreans performing at a restaurant in Beijing last year. For decades, the North has been accused of sending workers abroad and confiscating most of their wages. Credit Ng Han Guan/Associated Press

As the end of the fashion season approached, and the suits and dresses arrived in her company’s warehouses here in the Chinese border town of Dandong, the accountant crammed about $100,000 into a backpack, then boarded a rickety train with several co-workers.

She asked to be identified only by her surname, Lang, given the sensitivity of their destination: North Korea.

After a six-hour journey, she recalled, they arrived at a factory where hundreds of women using high-end European machines sewed clothes with “Made in China” labels. Her boss handed the money to the North Korean manager, all of it in American bills as required.

Despite seven rounds of United Nations sanctions over the past 11 years, including a ban on “bulk cash” transfers, large avenues of trade remain open to North Korea, allowing it to earn foreign currency to sustain its economy and finance its program to build a nuclear weapon that can strike the United States.

Fraudulent labeling helps support its garment industry, which generated more than $500 million for the isolated nation last year, according to Chinese trade data.  (………..)

For those with quick deadlines or detailed specifications, she turns to Chinese factories in Dandong, where quality control is better. Yet even these factories employ North Korean laborers, she said.

For decades, North Korea has been accused of sending workers abroad and confiscating most of their wages, an arrangement that activists liken to slave labor. Researchers say the practice has expanded since Mr. Kim took power, with more than 50,000 workers now toiling in up to 40 countries.

In Dandong, the local government boasts that 10,000 North Koreans are employed in its apparel factories, working 12- to 14-hour shifts, with just two to four days off each month and a monthly wage of no more than $260.

 [NY Times]

You can read much more about how North Korea gets around sanctions aided by the Chinese at the link.