North Korea made nearly $200 million last year by violating UN sanctions and shipping coal to multiple countries, according to an exclusive Reuters report. But that's not all. A confidential report prepared by independent UN monitors and seen by Reuters on Friday also states North Korea supplied weapons—including ballistic missile systems—to Syria and Myanmar. UN monitors say they found 15 shipments of coal from North Korea to Russia, China, South Korea, Malaysia, and Vietnam that violated UN caps on North Korean coal exports between January and August of last year. They say they found another 23 shipments in potential violation following the UN outright banning North Korean coal exports on Aug. 5.
The report to the UN Security Council's sanctions committee states these shipments were mostly made by doctoring paperwork to show the coal came from Russia or China. So far, no country named has fessed up to accepting improper coal shipments. The UN monitors also say they investigated 40 unreported shipments from North Korea to Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Centre, which is in charge of Syria's chemical weapons program, between 2012 and 2017. Their report states North Korea delivered "items with utility in ballistic missile and chemical weapons programs." And one unidentified country says it has proof Myanmar received shipments of ballistic missile systems, rocket launchers, and more from North Korea. Myanmar's ambassador to the UN denies any "ongoing arms relationship" with North Korea. (Read more North Korea stories.)