Hugh Griffith, former head of UN Panel of Experts monitoring the UN sanctions on North Korea, emphasized the necessity to prevent North Korea’s violation of sanctions regarding the North Korean coal ship Wise Honest seized by the U.S. “It is clear that Wise Honest engaged in illegal activities violating the UNCLOS,” said Griffith. “If North Korea continues to transport coal in this manner, more North Korean vessel will be seized in the future.” Regarding the grounds of such an assessment, he said, “The annual report on North Korea sanctions, which we had worked on for five months since September, has meticulously investigated and review the matter.”
Griffith is a sanction expert who has been leading panel activities for five years as the head of PoE. He granted an interview with the Dong-A Ilbo, which was the first interview with a Korean newspaper.
“North Korea is a country that decided to avoid sanctions,” said Griffith in an e-mail and face-to-face interviews. “It is an exceptional case in the sense that systems and global organizations are well organized.” He was referring to the fact that Pyongyang was raking in foreign currencies from 45 hubs in Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East and South America while avoiding global sanctions.
“North Korean officials all around the world are abusing the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations and avoiding investigation using a diplomat’s passport,” he said. “North Korea’s intelligence agents, global traders, arms smugglers and bankers are engaging in these activities.”
He also said, “North Korea’s leader has prioritized avoiding sanctions and continued on with this for 13 years since 2006 when the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee was founded, which is unprecedented in history.”
“Merchants who try to make profits by avoiding sanctions regardless of nationalities,” he talked on the case where South Korean vessels and companies were investigated for illegal transshipment of coal last year and emphasized that it was private companies that tried to avoid sanctions, not the government. He also mentioned that at least eight UN member states are involved in North Korea’s illegal shipment. “North Korea’s avoidance of sanctions goes beyond borders,” he said, while talking about ‘sans-frontier’ sanctions.
“Launch of ballistic missiles is violation of sanctions,” he said about North Korea’s recent missile launches. “Whether the committee recommends penalties or not depends on the decision of member countries.” “The recent missile launch shows that we need stronger sanctions to prevent North Korea’s provocations,” he pointed out.
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