Russia said Thursday that it was holding up release of a report by U.N. experts who said North Korea is violating U.N. sanctions by not stopping its nuclear and missile programs and by engineering “a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products.”
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters after a closed Security Council meeting on the report that he was blocking its release “because we disagree on certain elements of the report.”
He said Russia also asked for an investigation into regular leaks of reports on North Korea to the media. The Associated Press and other news organizations reported the panel’s latest findings in early August.
Nebenzia didn’t disclose Russia’s concerns, but diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because consultations were private, said a key objection was the panel’s mention of Russian ships being involved in illegal ship-to-ship transfers.
Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Karen Pierce, the current Security Council president, said there would be informal consultations Friday to determine what Russia’s objections are in hopes of finalizing and releasing the report.
“I need to stress that this panel of experts report is independent,” she said. “It’s an interesting question as to whether you should be objecting to an independent report. But, as I say, the council hopes we can resolve this.”
Pierce said the Security Council had been “very strong” on enforcing sanctions against North Korea, “and getting this report out and implemented is the next stage in enforcing the sanctions.”
The experts’ report said sanctions against North Korea were also being violated by transfers of coal at sea and by the flouting of an arms embargo and financial restrictions.
North Korea also attempted to sell small arms, light weapons and other military equipment via foreign intermediaries, including Syrian arms traffickers in the case of Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen as well as Libya and Sudan, the report said. And North Korea has continued military cooperation with Syria, in breach of U.N. sanctions.