China joined the rest of the UN Security Council on Friday in renewing the mandate of a committee of experts monitoring sanctions against North Korea even though Beijing has blocked release of the experts’ latest report.
The unanimous UN Security Council vote came weeks after China held up release of the report. The committee of experts accuses North Korea of violating UN sanctions that ban the export and import of ballistic missile and nuclear-related items as well as conventional arms and luxury goods.
China’s UN Ambassador Li Bao-dong (李保東) told reporters at the time that Beijing was “still studying that report.”
China, which has close ties to North Korea, held up the panel’s first report in May last year; it was finally released in November.
Separately, a high-level Chinese delegation arrived in North Korea on Friday, including one Chinese Communist Party official who has met North Korean leader Kim Jong-il on several past visits. The visit comes as China and North Korea held groundbreaking ceremonies for two new economic zone cooperation projects earlier in the week.
The UN Security Council imposed sanctions against North Korea after its first nuclear test in 2006 and stepped up sanctions after its second test in 2009 to try to derail the country’s rogue nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
The council authorized the experts panel in the 2009 resolution and the seven independent members were appointed by UN -Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
In renewing their mandate, the Security Council said the experts’ work was important because the UN needed “credible, fact-based, independent assessments, analysis and recommendations” about North Korea’s compliance with the sanctions.
The latest report said North Korea remains “actively engaged” in exporting ballistic missiles, components and technology to numerous customers in the Middle East and South Asia in violation of UN sanctions.
The panel said prohibited ballistic missile-related items are suspected of being transferred between North Korea and Iran on regularly scheduled flights of Air Koryo and Iran Air, with trans-shipment through a third country that diplomats identified as China. China denies such activity.
The panel made 24 recommendations on how to improve -monitoring of sanctions.
The UN Security Council’s sanctions committee met late on Friday, and diplomats said efforts to speed up release of the expert panel’s report would be discussed.
However, Portugal’s UN Ambassador Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral said after the two-hour session that there was not yet a consensus to release the report.
“There is no conclusion on that,” he told reporters who asked about the report.
He said discussions of the findings would continue “in the next weeks.”