U.N. report: N. Korea's coal exports far exceed U.N. ceiling in Dec.
SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Yonhap) -- The volume of North Korea's coal exports reached nearly three times what the United Nations Security Council has allowed in its latest punitive resolution imposed on the communist country, an update on the U.N. website showed Tuesday.
The report indicates huge shipments of the energy resource were sent before China announced its ban last week. The data did not specify which country imported North Korean coal over the months, but put the number of reporting member states that bought North Korean coal at one, apparently meaning China.
The latest update of the U.N.'s 1718 Sanctions Committee, which oversees the implementation of UNSC sanctions on North Korea, showed North Korea exported a total of just over 2 million tons of coal in December, which is worth US$183.89 million.
In terms of value, the monthly export volume is well over the import ceiling of $53.5 million which the UNSC imposed in Resolution 2321 for the period of Nov. 30 to Dec. 31.
Denouncing North Korea's fifth nuclear test in September last year, the UNSC approved Resolution 2321, putting import ceilings on North Korean coal, the biggest source of foreign currency earnings for the reclusive country, which is believed to buttress its development of nuclear and missile programs.
The annual import ceiling for 2017 was set at 7.5 million tons or $400.87 million in value.
The sanctions committee update also showed that the monthly export of North Korean coal for January stood at 1.44 million tons, which accounts for over 19 percent of the annual total.
The data also suggests that China stockpiled on North Korean coal before its announcement on Saturday to suspend imports through the end of the year. China said the decision was made in accordance with the latest UNSC resolution.
Asked to comment on the figures, South Korea's foreign ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck said "China is explaining that the North Korean coal import suspension adopted on Saturday is part of its implementation of a UNSC resolution."
"The South Korean government is increasing diplomatic efforts to secure the international community's thorough implementation of Resolution 2321," the official said.