Oh, great. Guess who's violating North Korean sanctions now

Just this week we learned that plans are moving ahead for another summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, possibly to be held in Vietnam next month. They’ll certainly have plenty to talk about, but Donald Trump may want to stop by South Korea on his way there and have a chat with our long-term ally, Moon Jae-in. The President of South Korea may have a few questions to answer after we just learned that his nation has been violating the sanctions against North Korea and shipping them petroleum products without reporting the transfers. (Vice)

South Korea breached UN rules by failing to report more than 300 tonnes of petroleum products sent to North Korea in 2018, according to a report published Wednesday.

The discrepancy was revealed by the NK News website, which monitors and tracks North Korean activity.

Any UN member sending petroleum products to North Korea is subject to strict regulations and reporting requirements. Under UN Security Council resolution 2397, adopted in 2017, member states must notify a sanctions committee every 30 days of the amount of refined petroleum products supplied, sold or transferred to Pyongyang.

For their part, South Korea does claim to have an excuse and further investigation may prove them correct. Moon is saying that the large quantities of petroleum that went north were designated only for joint “inter-Korean” projects they have going. If the supplies were monitored by South Korea after they arrived and they truly only went to those limited scope projects, this might not be such a bad situation. (They still should have reported the shipments to the UN, though, if only to avoid confusion.)

But if there was no oversight, then we should have little doubt that Kim hijacked at least part of the petrol for his own use, most likely for his military. And if that’s the case, then the sanctions were violated.

It’s bad enough that the Chinese have already been sending North Korea supplies through illicit means. (They’ve been doing at-sea oil transfers to tankers in their coastal waters.) And the Russians are rumored to have been helping Kim as well. The less pressure he feels, the less inclined he will be to open up and transparently deal with us.

It’s understandable that Moon wants to put an end to the war on the peninsula once and for all, normalize relations and remove the nuclear threat, but we need to stick to the plan. South Korea is a valued ally, but it’s also worth pointing out that they owe us a tremendous debt. If it weren’t for the United States, Moon’s country wouldn’t exist. We should be able to expect better of him.

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