UN probing North Korea sanctions violations in 20 countries

UN experts say they are investigating possible violations of United Nations sanctions on North Korea in about 20 countries, from alleged clandestine nuclear procurement in China to arms brokering in Syria and military cooperation with Iran, Libya and Sudan.

The expert panel's 66-page report to the Security Council, obtained on Monday by 'The Associated Press', also detailed the appearance in North Korea of a Rolls-Royce Phantom, Mercedes-Benz limousines and Lexus LX 570 all-wheel drive luxury vehicles in violation of a ban on luxury goods.

And it noted a trend in North Korea's evasion of financial sanctions "of using cyberattacks to illegally force the transfer of funds from financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges."

The report's executive summary, which was obtained in early February, said North Korea's nuclear and missile programs "remain intact" and its leaders are dispersing missile assembly and testing facilities to prevent "decapitation" strikes.

The full report said "the Yongbyon nuclear complex remained active," noting that satellite imagery through November showed excavation of water channels and construction of a new building near the reactors' water discharge facilities.

Satellite imagery also "indicates possible operation of the radiochemical laboratory and associated steam plant," it said.

The panel said it continues monitoring uranium concentration plants and mining sites in the country.

It also has "surveyed, confirmed and reported ballistic missile activity sites and found evidence of a consistent trend" by North Korea "to disperse its assembly, storage and testing locations," the report said.

(with news agency inputs)