Friday, February 27, 2015

UN: North Korean company renames ships to evade sanctions

UN: North Korean company renames ships to evade sanctions
02/26/2015 3:44 AM 02/26/2015 3:44 AM

A North Korean shipping company that famously tried to hide fighter jets
under a cargo of sugar later sought to evade U.N. sanctions by renaming
most of its vessels, a new report says.

The effort by Pyongyang-headquartered Ocean Maritime Management Company,
Ltd. is detailed in the report by a panel of experts that monitors
sanctions on North Korea. The report, obtained by The Associated Press,
makes clear the challenge of keeping banned arms and luxury goods from a
nuclear-armed country with a history of using front companies to duck

The U.N. Security Council holds consultations Thursday on the report,
which also says North Korea's government persists with its nuclear and
missile programs in defiance of council resolutions.

The council last year imposed sanctions on OMM after Panama in 2013
seized a ship it operated that carried undeclared military equipment
from Cuba. Panamanian authorities found two Cuban fighter jets, missiles
and live munitions beneath the Chong Chon Gang's cargo of sugar.

The council's sanctions committee said that violated a U.N. arms embargo
imposed in response to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. At
the time, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said that imposing a global
asset freeze on OMM meant that the company would no longer be able to
operate internationally.

But the new report says that in the months after the sanctions were
imposed, 13 of the 14 ships controlled by OMM changed their owners and
managers, "effectively erasing" the company from a database kept by the
International Maritime Organization. Twelve of the ships "reportedly
stayed, visited or were sighted near ports in foreign countries," and
none were frozen by member states as the panel of experts recommends.

The new report explores the shipping company's global reach, using
people and entities operating in at least 10 countries: Brazil, China,
Egypt, Greece, Japan, Malaysia, Peru, Russia, Singapore and Thailand.
The report recommends updating the sanctions list with 34 OMM entities
and says all 14 vessels should be subject to sanctions.

No interdictions of the kind that Panama made in 2013 were reported in
the period between Feb. 8 of last year and Feb. 5 of this year. But the
new report warns that the panel of experts sees no evidence that North
Korea "intends to cease prohibited activities."

The report also says diplomats, officials and trade representatives of
North Korea continue to "play key roles in facilitating the trade of
prohibited items, including arms and related materiel and ballistic
missile-related items."

The panel of experts warns that some U.N. member states still are not
implementing the council resolutions that are meant to keep North Korea
from further violations.

North Korea also faces an embargo on luxury goods, but the report found
that it managed to bring in luxury goods from multiple countries,
including with the help of its diplomatic missions. Some items were for
the country's Masik Pass luxury ski report, which opened in 2013. China
told the panel of experts that the ski lift equipment it provided was
acceptable because "skiing is a popular sport for people" and that ski
items are not specifically prohibited.

In another case, a yacht seen alongside leader Kim Jong Un in 2013 was
sourced by the panel of experts to a British manufacturer, Princess
Yachts International, which the panel said did not reply to a request
for more information.

The panel also said it has opened its first investigation into a case
involving North Korean drones after the wreckage of three drones was
found in South Korea in late 2013 and 2014. The report says the drones
had been used for reconnaissance over South Korean military facilities
and that the drones contained components "sourced from at least six
foreign countries."

North Korea protests that the U.N. sanctions are harmful to its
citizens, but the report says it has found no incidents where they
"directly resulted in shortages of ... humanitarian aid." It does
recommend that the sanctions committee propose exemptions for purely
food, medical or other humanitarian needs.

Source: UN: North Korean company renames ships to evade sanctions |
Miami Herald Miami Herald -

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