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How North Korea has "laundered" coal to undercut sanctions

A mountain of North Korean coal piled up on one side of the barrier in Rajin harbour. Photo: ED JONES / AFP / Getty Images

Despite sanctions, North Korean coal has made its way to the international market, including in South Korea and Japan, through a deceptive process that involves falsified documents and the cooperation of officials and businesses in at least three countries, The Washington Post reports, citing records produced by investigators and U.N. experts.

At a glance: In August and September of last year, at least four ships dumped North Korean coal at a harbor in Russia before six other vessels arrived to transport both Russian and North Korean coal to foreign markets, the Post reports.

Why it matters, per the Post: "It was hardly the first time that North Korea has used subterfuge to fool its adversaries and flout international trade restrictions. But independent analysts say the movement of coal through Russia’s Kholmsk port last year was remarkable, because of the timing — it came just as the U.N. Security Council imposed new sanctions on the sale of North Korean coal — and because of the ruse’s elaborate, multilayered deceptions."

The backdrop: This revelation further underscores why the Trump administration slapped new, heightened economic sanctions last month on North Korea-related shipping in an attempt to curtail the country's revenue sources, used to fund nuclear and military programs. The sanctions target 27 entities, 28 vessels and one individuals all involved in sanction evasion schemes.

Go deeper with the Washington Post report.