An expert panel's report says North Korea continues to violate U.N. sanctions, citing possible attempts to ship arms to Syria and Myanmar and illegally import luxury goods, U.N. diplomats said Friday.
Two Security Council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the report has not been released, said the panel concluded the violations "illustrate elaborate techniques" used by North Korea to evade the discovery of its sanctions-busting.
The Security Council imposed sanctions against North Korea after its first nuclear test in 2006 and stepped up sanctions after its second test in 2009 to try to derail the country's rogue nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
The report to the council committee monitoring sanctions is expected to be discussed by the 15 council members and could be changed before it is finalized. The panel's previous report in May 2011 has not been released because of objections from China, which has close ties to North Korea. The reports use the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK.
The panel's latest assessment said member states did not report any violations involving the transfer of items related to nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or ballistic missiles, "but they did report several other violations including illicit sales of arms and related material and luxury goods," the diplomats said.
"These cases provide ample evidence that the DPRK continues actively to defy the measures in the resolution," the diplomats quoted the report as saying.
The panel said it couldn't confirm recent media reports and academic papers citing possible ongoing missile cooperation between North Korea and other states, especially Iran and Syria, the diplomats said.
But they quoted the panel as saying this "would be consistent with reports of the DPRK's long history of missile cooperation with these countries and with the panel's observations."
In assessing the impact of sanctions, the panel concluded that "although the resolutions have not caused the DPRK to halt its banned activities, they appear to have slowed them and made illicit transactions significantly more difficult and expensive," the diplomats said.
The panel cited a number of cases including a report from France in April 2012 about its interception in November 2010 of "an illicit shipment of arms-related material originating from the DPRK and destined for Syria," the diplomats said.
The shipment contained brass discs and copper rods used to manufacture artillery munitions and aluminum alloy tubes useable for making rockets, the diplomats quoted the report as saying.
The report referred to two North Korean ships heading for Myanmar _ one in June 2009 and the other in May 2011 _ which the U.S. has said were suspected to be carrying weapons or missiles, one diplomat said. The first turned back, apparently after it became aware it was being tracked, and the second headed home after being challenged by a U.S. Navy destroyer.
The panel also found that activities carried out under a 2008 memorandum of cooperation between the armed forces of North Korea and Myanmar could violate sanctions, the diplomat said.