posted on Thu 30 May 2013 4:04 PM
Meeting of the 1718 DPRK Sanctions Committee

Tomorrow afternoon (Friday, 31 May), the 1718 Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Sanctions Committee will meet to discuss the latest report from the Panel of Experts (PoE) assisting the Committee. (On 7 March, almost four months in advance of the scheduled expiry of the PoE, the Council adopted resolution 2094 renewing its mandate until 7 April 2014, but deciding that the PoE should still submit a final report in accordance with the original reporting schedule of resolution 2050.) The report was circulated to Council members in mid-May.

The report has yet to be made public, but its main findings and recommendations were almost immediately leaked to the press. It seems the report concludes that the DPRK is continuing to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, but that the sanctions are having an impact and are causing significant delays. In particular, the report notes that the financial sanctions measures appear to be effective.

The report lists a number of alleged sanctions violations committed by the DPRK, including the seizure in May 2012 of missile-related items bound for Syria. It also notes that the DPRK continues to violate sanctions provisions banning the import of luxury goods and that since May 2012 Japan has reported nine cases of suspected violations of the ban.

Among the recommendations included in the report is the listing of three entities and 12 individuals to be subject to sanctions. The proposed entities are the DPRK Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry, the Munitions Industry Department of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers Party (KWP) and the State Space Development Bureau. The proposed individuals include a DPRK minister and four officials, a national from Kazakhstan and two from Ukraine.

The Committee meeting is taking place against a background of decreased tensions on the Korean Peninsula following the escalation after the DPRK’s 12 February nuclear test. The DPRK engaged in increasingly belligerent behaviour in response to the adoption of resolution 2094 and the imposition of additional UN sanctions against it. (For further details on those developments, please see our May Monthly Forecast.)

On 22 May, the DPRK sent a special envoy to China, Vice Marshal Choe Ryong-hae, in an apparent bid to mend the increasingly strained relations between the two countries. According to official media reports in China, Choe delivered a hand-written letter from DPRK leader Kim Jong-un to President Xi Jinping stating that the DPRK was willing “to make joint efforts with all interested parties to appropriately resolve related issues through multilateral dialogue and consultations like the six-party talks and maintain peace and stability on the peninsula”. President Xi was quoted as saying that China hoped all sides would exercise calm and restraint, push for a lessening of tensions and restart the six-party talks.

On 28 May, the DPRK invited the Republic of Korea (ROK) factory owners to return to the Kaesong industrial zone which has been closed since April when the DPRK withdrew its workers and blocked access to the site from the south. The ROK rejected the offer, however, and reiterated its previous position that the future of the zone must be dealt with through official channels.

While it remains to be seen how these developments will impact discussions in the Committee, they may be referred to by some Council members. The meeting tomorrow will provide the Committee a first opportunity to exchange views on the POE report since it was circulated and the discussion is therefore expected to be fairly general. A more in-depth discussion of the recommendations in the report will be held later, most likely in July. It was unclear at this stage if any members might have problems with the content of the report. In the meantime, it seems an immediate priority for many Council members is to ensure that the report will be made public since this has not always been the case. The decision on whether to release the report publicly is likely to be made by the Council in June when it receives the report from the Committee. (Although the 2012 report was publicly released, the 2011 report was not due to objections by China. A version leaked to media outlets suggested that items prohibited by the sanctions regime had been transferred between the DPRK and Iran on aircraft that transited through third countries, possibly including China. It took the Council six months to publicly release the 2010 report, again apparently due to reluctance from China.)

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