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U.N. committee website to monitor North Korea coal exports

A new section on the site is designed to increase accountability among U.N. member states.

By Elizabeth Shim
U.N. committee website to monitor North Korea coal exports
A United Nations Security Council committee has launched a new section on its website to track North Korea’s coal exports. Photo courtesy Loey Felipe/United Nations

NEW YORK, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- The United Nations Security Council has launched a new website section to keep an eye on North Korea coal exports.

The site monitors exports of coal from North Korea in real time, in order to check whether U.N. member states, like China, are in compliance with the latest sanctions resolution that targets Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program by tightening restrictions on coal, according to Yonhap.

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In November, when Resolution 2321 was adopted, coal exports were expected to decline by 60 percent, leading to a loss of about $800 million in revenue for North Korea.

That number represents a significant portion of total North Korea exports, estimated to be about $3 billion.

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The U.N. website launched on Wednesday now includes a section, "Total 2017 volume and value of procurement of coal from [North Korea]" that includes a new column measuring the total volume of procured North Korean coal, as reported by U.N. member states.

Member states can notify the Security Council of export levels, by filling in a column when coal exports pass 75, 90, or 95 percent of the export cap for North Korea coal exports.

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Another column allows member countries to report monthly imports of North Korean coal.

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George Lopez, a former member of the U.N. Panel of Experts for monitoring the sanctions on North Korea, and now at the University of Notre Dame, has said a rule requiring member states like China to certify coal tonnage and payment could increase accountability and track progress.

Lopez has previously said in a statement to UPI that while the resolution alone will not end North Korea's nuclear program, the sanctions are a "stark reminder" that states subject to sanctions may be suspended from their U.N. rights and privileges, and could make the six-party talks as a more attractive alternative for North Korea when asserting its nuclear claims.

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