N. Korea’s nuclear, missile programs remain intact: U.N. panel

WASHINGTON, North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs have remained intact as the country has developed new means to evade sanctions, a United Nations panel said Tuesday.

North Korea's main nuclear facility in Yongbyon has remained active, with its 5-megawatt reactor in operation since December 2015, according to an annual report by a panel of independent experts for the U.N. Security Council committee monitoring sanctions implementation on the North.

It said satellite imagery of the complex from February to November 2018 showed the excavation of water channels and the construction of a building near the reactors' water discharge facilities.

A new building could also be seen on the west side of the light water reactor, the panel said.

In Pyongsan, the site of uranium mines, the panel said it observed the removal of spoil piles, which indicated possible mining activity.

But in Kangson, there was no significant change around its possible uranium enrichment facility, other than the periodic movement of oversize trucks.

"The nuclear and ballistic missile programmes of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea remain intact and the country continues to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products and coal," the report said.

"These violations render the latest United Nations sanctions ineffective by flouting the caps on the import of petroleum products and crude oil by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as well as the coal ban, imposed in 2017 by the Security Council in response to the country's unprecedented nuclear and ballistic missile testing."

It said the ship-to-ship transfers have involved "increasingly advanced evasion techniques," including the disguising of vessels through ship identity theft and false Automatic Identification System transmissions.

In particular, the manipulation of AIS transmissions from vessels remained an overarching feature of illegal transfers, which in turn highlighted weak monitoring by flag states, the panel said.

Other evasion methods included physically disguising the North's tankers, the use of small and unregistered vessels, illegal name changing and night transfers.

North Korea, meanwhile, has continued to attempt sales of small arms and other military equipment to Libya, Sudan and Houthi rebels in Yemen, in violation of the arms embargo, the report said.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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