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China prohibits export of more dual-use goods to North Korea

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This photo taken on December 6, 2017 shows a loaded cargo ship at the Yangshan Deep-Water Port, an automated cargo wharf, in Shanghai, China. (Photo by AFP)

China has released yet another list of commodities prohibited from export to North Korea, saying the items could likely be used to develop weapons of mass destruction, amid a persisting standoff between the North and the US over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

The list, which included extremely technical, was jointly issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, the China Atomic Energy Authority and the Customs Bureau on Monday.

According to a statement released by China’s Ministry of Commerce, the list was meant to act in accordance with the requirements of the latest round of UN sanctions against Pyongyang introduced late last year. Beijing has repeatedly said it is fully enforcing all UN resolutions against North Korea.

The new list of items included an array of dual-use goods, or products which have both civilian and military use. The list was released after a confidential report by independent UN monitors that said the North allegedly violated UN embargoes to earn nearly $200 million last year from banned commodity exports.

There are dozens of prohibited items in the list, including air scrubbers for underwater use, equipment to simulate flying conditions for non-civilian aircraft and gas masks not for use by firefighters. The Commerce Ministry asserted that the list of banned goods was effective upon issuance.

Beijing remains Pyongyang’s closest and largest commercial partner, purchasing some 83 percent of the North’s exports and selling 85 percent of the goods imported by the peninsular country.

The UN Security Council (UNSC) unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea in December following an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test, seeking to further limit its access to refined petroleum products and crude oil. The US-drafted UNSC resolution seeks to ban nearly 90 percent of refined petroleum exports to North Korea by capping them at 500,000 barrels per year.

North Korea has been under a raft of crippling UN sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear tests as well as multiple rocket and missile launches. Pyongyang firmly defends its weapons programs as a deterrent against potential aggression by the US and its regional allies, including South Korea. The North says the regular joint war games by the US, South Korea, and Japan, are rehearsals for war, and has repeatedly urged Seoul and Tokyo to disengage from such drills.

North Korea has already demanded a halt to what it called “brutal sanctions” imposed by the UNSC, saying the bans imposed after Pyongyang’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3 constitute “genocide.”

At the same time as saying it is totally committed to applying the sanctions, Beijing has also repeatedly called for a return to dialogue.

The list comes as tensions on the Korean peninsula have eased ahead of this month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea which start on Friday.

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