Date
24 November 2017
The North Korean vessel Chong Chon Gang was seized in Panama in July last year after it was found to be carrying arms, including two MiG-21 jet fighters, hidden under thousands of tons of Cuban sugar. Photo: Reuters
The North Korean vessel Chong Chon Gang was seized in Panama in July last year after it was found to be carrying arms, including two MiG-21 jet fighters, hidden under thousands of tons of Cuban sugar. Photo: Reuters

North Korean shipping firm renaming ships to skirt sanctions: UN

A North Korean shipping company, blacklisted by the United Nations, has renamed most of its vessels in a bid to disguise their origin and continues illicit shipments in violation of UN sanctions, Reuters said, citing a UN experts report.

The UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts on North Korea, which monitors implementation of sanctions on Pyongyang, also said in the 76-page report that North Korea “continued to defy Security Council resolutions by persisting with its nuclear and ballistic missile programs”.

North Korea is under UN sanctions because of its nuclear tests and missile launches. In addition to arms, Pyongyang is banned from importing and exporting nuclear and missile technology and is not allowed to import luxury goods.

Last July, the council blacklisted shipping company Ocean Maritime Management Company (OMM) for arranging an illegal shipment on the Chong Chon Gang ship, which was seized in Panama and found to be carrying arms, including two MiG-21 jet fighters, hidden under thousands of tons of Cuban sugar.

“Following the designation of OMM … [North] Korea acted in order to evade sanctions by changing the registration and ownership of vessels controlled by the company,” the report said.

“Thus far, 13 of the 14 vessels controlled by OMM have been renamed, their ownership transferred to other single ship owner companies [with names derived from the ship’s new names] and vessel management transferred to two main companies,” it added.

The report said OMM worked with individuals and entities based in countries such as Brazil, China, Egypt, Greece, Japan, Malaysia, Peru, Russia, Singapore and Thailand.

The panel said North Korean diplomats, officials and trade representatives played key roles in illegal weapons and missile deals. They often were involved in illegal funds transfers.

The panel also said North Korean intelligence agents aided the movement of money believed to be linked to weapons transactions.

The report said agents of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, North Korea’s main intelligence agency, had worked at international organizations such as UNESCO and the UN World Food Program, and were using those positions to support activities aimed at skirting sanctions.

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CG

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