A new report from sanctions monitors at the United Nations revealed that North Korea is attempting to protect its nuclear program in the face of the next summit with President Donald Trump.
U.N. sanctions monitors “found evidence of a consistent trend on the part of the DPRK to disperse its assembly, storage and testing locations” in their confidential report, which was submitted to the U.N. Security Council and obtained by Reuters on Monday.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) February 5, 2019
The move is seen as a tactic to prevent the nuclear stockpiles’ complete destruction in the event of a U.S. airstrike.
“The country continues to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products and coal,” the sanctions monitors determined. “These violations render the latest U.N. sanctions ineffective.”
Their report also cited a single transfer of petroleum consisting of 57,600 barrels worth $5.7 million – despite sanctions prohibiting such a transfer – as an example of North Korea’s defiance.
U.S. and North Korean officials are making plans for the second summit between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, slated to take place at the end of February.
After months of speculation, Trump hinted at the date of the summit while touting progress made in denuclearization talks with North Korea.
“The Media is not giving us credit for the tremendous progress we have made with North Korea. Think of where we were at the end of the Obama Administration compared to now. Great meeting this week with top Reps. Looking forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at end of February!” Trump tweeted on Jan. 30.
The Media is not giving us credit for the tremendous progress we have made with North Korea. Think of where we were at the end of the Obama Administration compared to now. Great meeting this week with top Reps. Looking forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at end of February!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2019
Trump has repeatedly remarked on “progress” in the talks, though reports have surfaced on North Korea’s continued nuclear activities.
A Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) report found that North Korea continues to maintain 20 secret missile bases, the oldest of which is still operating and at the core of their medium-range missile program.
In August 2018, a U.N. watchdog group, the International Atomic Energy Agency, concluded that North Korea was actively continuing its nuclear program, as evidenced by activity observed in satellite imagery.
“The continuation and further development of the DPRK’s nuclear program and related statements by the DPRK are a cause for grave concern,” the report said at the time.
North Korea has maintained that the U.S. should be more lenient with economic sanctions and provide concessions in order for denuclearization talks to make further progress. The U.S. has refused, sending the talks to a standstill.
Trump and Kim held their first summit in June 2018, where the two leaders reached an agreement involving North Korea’s “complete and verifiable” denuclearization, along with repatriation of U.S. service members’ remains from the Korean War.