Under international agreements, North Korea isn’t supposed to be able to export its coal. That its smugglers have been doing so right under China’s nose is one reason Beijing is in focus as sanctions bear down on Russia.
Chinese companies have repeatedly dodged restrictions on trading with countries like North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, according to sanctions investigators from United Nations panels of experts, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and other monitors. A U.N. panel’s report six months ago, for example, documented how North Korea-connected vessels illegally made 41 coal transfers in about four months just offshore from China’s busiest port.
“If they don’t believe the sanctions are legal and legitimate, there’s no incentive for them to enforce them,” said Jason Bartlett, who monitors sanctions for CNAS.
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