N. Korea’s coal exports sharply fall in March: U.N. website

SEOUL-- North Korea's coal exports sharply declined in March compared with the amounts tallied for the previous two months, a U.N. website showed Friday, as the global body is seeking to curb the main source of foreign currency for Pyongyang.

Under a resolution adopted by the U.N. Security Council late last year in response to the North's fifth nuclear test, member countries are asked to notify the U.N. sanctions committee of the amount and money spent on importing coal from the reclusive state.

An unidentified country reported to the U.N. committee that it imported 6,300 tons of North Korean coal valued at some US$570,000 in March, according to the website.

Resolution 2321 banned the member states from buying North Korean coal in excess of $400.87 million or 7.5 million tons for 2017.

The committee did not unveil the name of the country, but the unspecified nation is presumed to be China.

For January and February, a country believed to be China reported that it imported 1.44 million tons and 1.23 million tons of coal from the North, respectively.

China said in mid-February that it will halt imports of North Korean coal in line with the UNSC sanctions against Pyongyang. The decision will be valid through the end of this year.

The March data may reflect China's calculation of some coal that was earlier imported but compiled later, experts said. A possibility of a third country importing North Korean coal cannot be ruled out, they added.

Requests for notification of the coal imports were made for the monthly data to be compiled at the end of the following month, and they will be posted on the U.N. sanctions website.

The move is aimed at curbing the North's coal sales, a main source of hard currency suspected of being exploited for its nuclear and missile programs. China imports most of its coal from the North.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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