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North Korea iron ore exports to China at active levels, analyst says

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea iron ore exports to China at active levels, analyst says
Empty Chinese dump trucks wait to enter into North Korea on their way to an iron ore mine. Recent satellite images show activities at North Korea’s Musan mine have not stopped since the passage of a U.N. sanctions resolution in March. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- A U.S. analyst says trade in North Korean iron ore has continued despite the adoption of tougher United Nations Security Council sanctions in March.

Writing on 38 North, a Johns Hopkins University website dedicated to North Korea issues, Jeffrey Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey said a comparison of satellite imagery shows North Korea's "Musan Mine remains active and iron ore continues to be exported to China."

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"It is not possible to estimate whether the total amount of ore is significantly less than in previous years, but it appears that the livelihood exception in [Resolution] 2270 has allowed this trade channel to remain open," Lewis writes.

The Musan mine captured in several images from 2015 and 2016 is proximal to the China-North Korea border, and is a large iron ore mine in North Hamgyong Province.

According to the analysis, a comparison of imagery taken from September 2015 and August 2016 shows, "New and growing spoil piles at Musan Mine" are visible "even after the adoption" of the recent U.N. sanctions resolution.

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Once mined, the iron ore is transported to China by trucks over a bridge, the study says.

The analysis supports data from Seoul's Korea International Trade Association that shows North Korea iron ore exports to China was up 67 percent beginning in April, according to Voice of America.

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