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North Korea still enhancing its nuclear programs and evading sanctions, U.N. report says

North Korea is enhancing its nuclear program
North Korea is enhancing its nuclear program, UN report says 00:37

United Nations — North Korea has "continued to enhance" its "illicit nuclear and ballistic missile" programs, violating United Nations Security Council resolutions and evading financial sanctions as it does, according to a still-unpublished report by U.N. experts shown to CBS News.

A summary of the report was distributed to Security Council members Monday. The report has six additional sections, not yet distributed, that contain extensive information about illicit North Korean actions.

Ballistic Missiles 

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has "continued to develop infrastructure and capacity for its missile program," the report says.

Two missile engine tests conducted by North Korea in December "point to a new phase in the ballistic missile program," the experts say.

The panel of experts also concludes a submarine under construction that could potentially carry ballistic missiles "would complete a major diversification of the ballistic missile program."

Financial Evasion

The "Finance" section of the report contains what may be the most dramatic evidence yet of illegal transactions and says North Korea continues to evade financial sanctions using shell companies and "joint ventures with unsuspecting foreign companies."

According to the report, the North's tactics include bulk cash and gold smuggling and the "continued theft and use of virtual currencies (e.g. Bitcoin) to evade sanctions and fund global cyber attacks."

Last August, a U.N. report concluded that North Korea raised up to $2 billion by skirting U.N. sanctions.

The U.N. experts point out that after February 2019, 'No progress was reported in the diplomatic sphere and, citing this, Pyongyang announced at the end of the year that it saw no reason to continue its self-declared moratorium on ICBM launches."

Although the end of year deadline set by North Korea's Kim Jong Un to restart nuclear talks with Washington passed with no sign of a nuclear test, negotiations with the U.S. are still stalled. 

Illicit Imports of Petroleum and Exports of Coal

The experts on the panel provide detailed evidence that North Korea violates U.N. resolutions by illicitly importing refined petroleum products "through ship-to-ship transfers and through direct deliveries by foreign-flagged vessels."

Some of the information in the report is disputed. Russia and China, the report says, want more information on evidence submitted to the panel by the U.S. that Pyongyang is exceeding by "many times over" the 500,000 barrel annual cap set by the Security Council on imports of the refined petroleum products.

The report also says illicit North Korean exports of coal and sand "provide a revenue stream that has historically contributed to its nuclear and ballistic missile programs."

"Guest Workers" and Adverse Humanitarian Consequences

U.N. Security Council resolutions "restricted and eventually prohibited" work permits to North Korean nationals because Pyongyang uses the earnings from such activities "to support its prohibited nuclear and ballistic missile program," the report says. It adds that a 2017 resolution required the repatriation of those nationals, known as "guest workers" by December 22, 2019.  

The panel says it's still investigating the foreign workers, who include sports players, doctors, IT workers, and manual laborers.

The report notes that sanctions resolutions aren't meant to adversely impact civilians or the work of humanitarian groups in the North and concedes that U.N. sanctions " may be assumed to have some unintended negative impact on the civilian population."

Next Steps

The report, produced by an independent panel of experts, includes recommendations on how to deal with Pyongyang moving forward.

When it's submitted to the 15-nation Security Council early next month, the report's more than three dozen recommendations can be negotiated, but its findings are in final form, a Council diplomat told CBS News. After the negotiations, the report is likely to be distributed by the U.N., but there have been times when such reports were never released.

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