US Accuses Russia of Covering Up Breaches of N.Korea Sanctions

Evarado Alatorre
Setiembre 14, 2018

In the months following a June summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, reports from the Chinese and Russian borders with the North have shown indications of an uptick in underground cross-border commerce.

The United States has imposed sanctions on two North Korean-controlled information technology companies based in China and Russian Federation, accusing them of moving illicit funds to North Korea.

U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, blasted the panel for not doing enough to monitor sanctions imposed by Donald Trump, and "for caving to Russian pressure and making changes to what should have been an independent report". Those amendments have only increased the quality of the report, the mission said.

"This is a unsafe precedent and a stain on the important work of the panel", Haley said, calling for the initial version of the report - dating from early August - to be published.

This followed news that the United States sanctioned a Chinese technology firm and its Russian sister company following allegations both were being operated by North Korea and therefore providing revenue to Pyongyang.

The Trump administration has sought to ramp up pressure on Kim to strike a deal to halt North Korea's nuclear program in part by penalizing Chinese and Russian firms that the increasingly isolated country depends on to keep its economy afloat.

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The report, submitted to the Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee last month, said Pyongyang had not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and was violating United Nations sanctions on exports.

Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said: "These actions are meant to stop the flow of illicit revenue to North Korea from overseas information technology workers disguising their true identities and hiding behind front companies, aliases, and third-party nationals".

Russian Federation "obtained the removal of the main part of the paragraphs" concerning it, a diplomat said, speaking anonymously.

The diplomat added: "The sanctions committee gave in".

By blocking since early August release of the original document, Russia explained that the report relied mainly on American information and did not take into account a Russian analysis of the application of sanctions.

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