This report from RUSI finds that North Korea has been engaging organised criminal networks and participating in a regional fuel smuggling market in violation of international sanctions, and that the nation is demonstrating increasingly sophisticated and previously unseen tactics to evade detection. It appears to have successfully bypassed fuel sanctions and exceeded the cap imposed by the UN Security Council each year since the introduction of the limit. The authors found that the proportion of fuel deliveries to North Korean ports by foreign-flagged tankers is significant and has been increasing, which raises important questions about the entities behind these sanctions violations, and the report calls for scrutiny of how smugglers continue to evade detection and identification while transporting fuel within some of the most heavily monitored waters in the world. Inter alia it found that North Korea has tapped into an existing fuel smuggling economy in East Asia to procure fuel at volume; Taiwan appears to be a key locus in this regional black market for fuel; North Korea’s illicit fuel supply chain has links to organised crime; and a key node in this DPRK fuel procurement network appears to be the Winson Group, a major regional oil trader.
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