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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.

Khorri Atkinson 2 hours ago
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NYT: Mueller witness tried to influence White House on Gulf states

Interviews and previously undisclosed documents revealed that a witness in Robert Mueller's probe had worked for over a year to convert a Republican fundraiser into a White House influencer to help usher in deals on behalf of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the New York Times reports.

The backdrop: George Nader, a political adviser of the U.A.E. and Elliott Broidy, the RNC's deputy finance chair, reportedly urged the White House to dismiss Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's support of combative approaches to Iran and Qatar. In another case, Nader promised Broidy over a $1 billion in contracts for his private security company in exchange for deals.

David Philips 4 hours ago
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Expert Voices

Russian obstruction on Syria at UN Security Council demands response

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein speaking during a press conference at the UN Offices in Geneva.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP via Getty Images

Russia used a procedural vote on Monday to prevent UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein from presenting on human rights conditions in Syria to the UN Security Council (UNSC).

Why it matters: To date, Russia has vetoed nine resolutions aimed at intensifying pressure on Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, moves that not only counter U.S. interests but undermine the international system.