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Russia dodging North Korea sanctions, report says

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (L) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in April. Russia could be going around sanctions that apply to North Korean laborers, according to the U.S. Congressional Research Service. File Photo by KCNA/UPI
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (L) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in April. Russia could be going around sanctions that apply to North Korean laborers, according to the U.S. Congressional Research Service. File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. Congressional Research Service says in a report Russia is evading international sanctions against North Korea following a Dec. 22 deadline that applies to North Korean workers.

In a recent status report on North Korea diplomacy, the CRS said "Russia has skirted the end-of-2019 requirement to send North Korean labor teams home by issuing them tourism and education visas."

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Earlier in January, Russia's foreign ministry had claimed Moscow is complying with United Nations Security Council sanctions and has returned most North Korean guest workers in the country.

Pyotr Ilichev, director of the foreign ministry's department for international organizations, had said in an interview with a Russian news agency the Russian government had dismissed almost all North Korean workers in accordance with a Security Council resolution.

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Last Thursday, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova suggested North Korean workers are no longer an issue.

"The majority of North Korean workers left our country. Around 1,000 people no longer have status of workers because their work permit expired, and they received no money in Russia," Zakharova said, according to Voice of America.

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The United States has penalized Russia with unilateral sanctions for various activities, including election interference, human rights abuses and weapons proliferation.

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On Russia's alleged North Korea sanctions violations, the CRS said in a January report the Trump administration has so far designated at least 22 Russia-related individuals, entities and vessels for "evading sanctions restricting trade and financial transactions with North Korea."

"Security Council resolutions also have drawn attention to North Korea's abuse of diplomatic privileges and immunities, money laundering, bulk cash smuggling, disruption of regional stability, and disregard for the human rights conditions of its civilian population," the report stated.

The CRS report on North Korea also pointed out South Korea's inter-Korea plans: "In January 2020, [President Moon Jae-in's] government reiterated its desire to obtain waivers to permit these projects and/or to pursue initiatives -- such as inter-Korean tourism -- that it argues are not covered by U.N. sanctions."

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Moon's presidential office has recently denied a Japanese press report of a bilateral tourism discussion at the White House.

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