Kim Jong-un’s still has nuclear missiles and the weapons’ programme is being hidden using airports as a cover, UN experts have warned.
North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes remain intact and Pyongyang is using airports and other facilities to shield its weapons from possible US military strikes, according to a UN panel of experts.
The panel said in a report today that sanctions against North Korea were ‘ineffective,’ with Pyongyang still able to acquire illegal shipments of oil products, sell banned coal and violate an arms embargo.
The confidential report was sent to the Security Council as President Donald Trump prepares for a second summit this month with leader Kim Jong Un that the United States hopes will yield concrete progress in dismantling Pyongyang’s weapons programmes.
Hide and seek: Kim Jong-un’s nuclear missile programme remains intact despite the deal signed with Donald Trump
‘The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes remain intact,’ said the report, using the official name for North Korea.
‘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 Trump administration has led the drive at the United Nations to impose a series of tough economic sanctions on North Korea in response to its nuclear tests and missile launches in 2017.
But North Korea has resorted to illegal transfers of oil, fuel and coal using a network of ships at sea to circumvent the UN-imposed measures aimed at depriving Pyongyang of revenue to build up its weapons programmes.
‘These violations 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,’ said the report.
North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missiles have been hidden by airports and other facilities, UN experts have warned
UN sanctions resolutions have set ceilings for North Korea of four million barrels of crude oil per year and 500,000 barrels of refined oil products.
‘The panel found that DPRK ports and airports are used for rampant violations of the resolution ranging from illegal oil imports and coal exports to the smuggling of bulk cash by DPRK nationals,’ said the report.
North Korea continues to violate an arms embargo and attempted to supply light weapons to Syria, the Huthi rebels in Yemen, Libya and Sudan, it added.
‘Financial sanctions remain some of the most poorly implemented and actively evaded measures of the sanctions regime,’ said the panel.
North Korean financial institutions operate in at least five countries, despite UN-imposed restrictions, while the country’s diplomats help their country evade sanctions by controlling bank accounts in multiple countries.
The UN panel found that Pyongyang is using civilian facilities, including airports, for the assembly of ballistic missiles, like the Hwasong-14 pictured at its launch in July 2017
The panel’s findings were in line with US intelligence assessments that North Korea is unlikely to scrap its weapons programmes but may offer to scale back its activities to win sanctions relief.
Last October dictator Kim Jong-un agreed to get rid of all the rogue state’s nuclear weapons, according to a deal he signed at a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
The hermit kingdom pledged to abolish all nuclear materials and facilities to achieve ‘complete’ denuclearisation, Moon Jae-in has claimed after the pair’s meeting three months ago.
Kim and US President Donald Trump pledged to work towards denuclearisation at their landmark summit in June last year in Singapore, but the agreement was short on specific details.
After his third summit in Pyongyang, Moon said the North was ready to invite international experts to watch the dismantling of a key missile site and would close the main Yongbyon nuclear complex if Washington took reciprocal actions.
Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shake hands at the start of their historic summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island, Singapore, in June last year
North Korea could have as many as 60 nuclear weapons, the South said after a summit earlier this month.
According to South Korean government reports, North is believed to have produced 110 lbs of weaponised plutonium – enough for at least eight bombs.
Last week, US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said North Korea’s leaders see nuclear weapons capability as ‘critical to regime survival.’
US special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun will hold talks in Pyongyang on Wednesday to press for progress and steps that could be touted as success during the upcoming summit, which is likely to take place in Vietnam.