TOKYO, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Moscow may have allowed several North Korean nuclear researchers to work at Russian nuclear sites, including a scientist who is under United Nations Security Council sanctions.
The North Korean nuclear scientists were allowed to engage in their research in Russia until early 2015 when Pyongyang stopped paying an annual membership fee to the Russian government, Japanese news agency Jiji Press reported Monday.
Katsuhisa Furukawa, who served on the U.N. Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee, said the group has evidence the North Koreans were allowed to conduct studies at Russian nuclear facilities in violation of international sanctions.
Russian authorities had said the North Korean scientists' work was "not related to nuclear weapons research," but Furukawa said the researchers were working at a major nuclear research institute where North Korea was one of 18 countries in representation.
The Japanese official said the Russian policy is a violation of international sanctions, adding the research center may have also hosted Ri Chae Son, a North Korean nuclear scientist under U.N. sanctions since 2009.
Russian authorities had said Ri was banned from the country after he was placed under sanctions, but Furukawa said Russian officials did not give the U.N. committee access to immigration records, which casts doubt on the authenticity of the claims.
The sanctions strictly forbid U.N. member states from engaging North Korea on nuclear-related activities.
Furukawa served on the committee from October 2011 to April 2016, and was in charge of investigating North Korea sanctions violations.