N.Korea 'earned $261m from banned exports'

North Korea earned almost US$200 million (RM777.5 million) a year ago by exporting banned commodities in violation of worldwide sanctions.

But a report submitted to a United Nations sanctions committee says the North earned at least 196 million dollars through exports of coal to China, Russia, Malaysia and Vietnam, as well as through shipping minerals and products. Multiple sanctions dating back to 2006 have tried to choke off funding for the nuclear and missile programs.

The confidential report, seen by Reuters, said that North Korea "continued to export nearly all the commodities prohibited in the United Nations resolutions between January and September 2017".

Myanmar's UN Ambassador Hau Do Suan said the Myanmar government "has no ongoing arms relationship, whatsoever, with North Korea" and is abiding by the UN Security Council resolutions.

The report said there was not enough "political will" and coordination to ensure sanctions were fully working.

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Monitors also suggested that Pyongyang supplied weapons to Syria and Myanmar.

There was reportedly evidence that the report found that the North was helping Syria to develop chemical weapons and providing ballistic missiles to Myanmar. In 2013, Panamanian forces confiscated a North Korea-flagged ship after undeclared Cuban weapons and fighter jets from the Soviet era were found under sacks of sugar.

One North Korean technical delegation in August 2016 involved the "transfer of special resistance valves and thermometers known for use in chemical weapons programmes", the report said. Its content is created separately from USA TODAY.

"The network of foreign traders responsible for violations of the coal ban operates through numerous front companies registered in multiple jurisdictions", the committee said. The false paperwork apparently showed countries such as Russian Federation and China as the origin of the merchandise, instead of North Korea.

Security Council sources say the North's methods of avoiding sanctions have become increasingly sophisticated as the United Nations sanctions have tightened.

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According to the report, several unnamed multinational oil companies are also now being investigated for their alleged role in supplying petroleum products to North Korea.

These range from banning coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood to capping crude-oil and refined petroleum products' imports.

Investigators looked at 40 previously unreported North Korean shipments between 2012 and 2017 to Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Centre, a body which oversees the country's chemical weapons program.

North Korea has for years used deceptive shipping practices to bring in money and goods for the regime.

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