North Korea: UN blacklists ships, firms to curb smuggling | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 31.03.2018
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North Korea: UN blacklists ships, firms to curb smuggling

The UN Security Council has blacklisted dozens of ships and companies for helping North Korea evade sanctions. The move ups pressure on Pyongyang as Kim Jong Un prepares to meet with US and South Korean counterparts.

The Security Council on Friday unanimously agreed on a new package of sanction designations as part of a global crackdown on North Korea's smuggling activities at sea.

Acting on a request from the United States, the council agreed to blacklist 27 ships for transporting banned commodities and helping Pyongyang flout UN sanctions.

A further 21 shipping and trading companies were slapped with an asset freeze — some of them for illegally smuggling loads of oil and coal. A Taiwanese businessman was also hit with a global travel ban and assets freeze for coordinating "North Korean coal exports with a North Korean broker operating in a third country."

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'Largest-ever' package

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said it was the largest-ever package of sanctions designations against the North.

"The approval of this historic sanctions package is a clear sign that the international community is united in our efforts to keep up maximum pressure on the North Korean regime," she said in a statement.

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Several rounds of UN sanctions have been imposed on North Korea since 2006 in an attempt to cut off funding for the rogue state's missile tests and nuclear weapons program.

Those sanctions have mainly targeted the export of coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, as well as imports of oil and refined petroleum products. But despite these measures, Pyongyang managed to earn around $200 million (€162 million) in revenue last year from banned exports, according to a recent report.

The Security Council decision comes days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing — his first known trip overseas since taking power in 2012. Kim is also due to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April, followed by a meeting with US President Donald Trump in May.

nm/bw (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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