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N. Korea continues to pursue nuclear, missile capabilities despite hardship: report

All News 05:34 August 07, 2021

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile programs this year despite poor food and economic conditions exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, a news report said Friday, citing an unpublished report by a U.N. sanctions committee.

The impoverished country continued to seek materiel and technology for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in the first half of the year "despite the country's focus on its worsening economic travails," Reuters reported, citing an excerpt of what it called a confidential U.N. report.

The U.N. report also noted a worsening humanitarian crisis in the North amid a border shutdown in place since early last year as a precaution against the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Statements made by DPRK suggested a deepening humanitarian crisis in the country, although the COVID-19 blockade means that the relative impact of sanctions on the humanitarian situation has probably decreased," Reuters quoted the report as saying.

DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said at a party meeting in June that his country's "food situation is now getting tense as the agricultural sector failed to fulfill its grain production plan" due to damage from typhoons last year.

The U.N. report said North Korea's trade has "all but stopped" by its own blockade, also noting the North's exports of coal and other sanctioned commodities continued "at a much reduced level," according to the Reuters report.

The North's oil imports also fell substantially in the first half of the year, it added.

Pyongyang has long been accused of using illegal ship-to-ship transfers to import oil products that are prohibited under U.N. Security Council resolutions.

North Korea has been subject to U.N. Security Council sanctions since 2006. The Security Council has since steadily strengthened its sanctions on the North, especially in 2017, when Pyongyang conducted its sixth and last nuclear test.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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