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UN Members Slow on Iranian, NK Sanctions
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Paul Kerr

Most countries have yet to inform the United Nations whether they have relevant legislation in place to implement newly adopted Security Council-mandated sanctions on Iran and North Korea, according to recent reports from two UN panels charged with monitoring the restrictions.           

According to the reports, 68 states and the European Union have submitted reports on their sanctions targeting North Korea; 58 countries and the EU have provided information on their sanctions targeting Iran. The UN has a total of 192 member states.

Security Council officials seemed to differ in their views of the reports. For example, Italy’s permanent representative to the Security Council, Marcello Spatafora, who chairs the committee overseeing the sanctions imposed on North Korea, told reporters April 16 that the “atmosphere” surrounding the committee’s work “has been very constructive, very positive.” The committee did not consider any states “backtracking” in implementing the sanctions, he added.

In contrast, U.S. Ambassador Jackie Sanders commented March 23 that “some reports” had insufficient detail on the steps taken to implement the Iranian sanctions. She also expressed concern in her statement that “approximately 70 percent” of UN member states had not yet submitted their reports to the committee.

The Security Council set up the committees to monitor compliance with Resolution 1718, which the council adopted last October following North Korea’s nuclear test, and Resolution 1737, which the council adopted last December in response to Iran’s failure to comply with demands made in a July 2006 resolution. (See ACT, November 2006 and January/February 2007.)

Both resolutions imposed a series of sanctions on the two countries, including restrictions on importing and exporting a variety of goods and technologies. The resolutions were aimed, at least in part, to bolster ongoing multilateral diplomatic efforts to resolve concerns about Tehran’s and Pyongyang’s nuclear programs.

The resolutions required the committees to “seek” information from governments regarding their execution of the sanctions. Resolution 1718 requires governments to provide the relevant information within 30 days; Resolution 1737 required the data within 60 days. Both committees are to report to the Security Council every 90 days about their progress.

Belgium’s permanent representative to the UN, Johan Verbeke, who chairs the committee overseeing the sanctions imposed on Iran, said March 23 that 51 states reported they already have relevant legislation in place and seven others said they were in the process of implementing such measures.

Verbeke also reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) notified the committee in early March of the agency’s decision to suspend cooperation with Iran on a variety of technical assistance projects. (See ACT, April 2007.) Resolution 1737 states that the IAEA should limit its technical cooperation with Tehran to “humanitarian purposes.”

The committee’s workload has recently been increased by Resolution 1747, which imposed new restrictions on Tehran and expanded the scope of the sanctions described in Resolution 1737. Resolution 1747, which was adopted by the council in March in response to Iran’s continued failure to comply with the previous resolution, also requires states to report on their implementation efforts by late May. Whether the committee has begun work relevant to the March resolution is unclear.

As for the sanctions imposed on North Korea, 31 countries reported that they already have relevant legislation in place; 37 others said they were making progress in implementing the resolution, according to an April 16 report from Spatafora.

As of Jan. 10, 46 countries and the EU had submitted the relevant information, according to the committee’s first report.

States’ reports to the committees vary in length and detail. For example, the reports from Japan and the United States on Resolution 1718 describe those governments’ domestic regulations that prohibit or regulate items described in the resolution. The two countries’ reports on Resolution 1737 contain comparable amounts of detail.

By contrast, Egypt’s report on Resolution 1737 says that the country “does not supply” restricted items to Iran, but it does not list  any regulations governing the export of these goods.

Spatafora also reported that the committee issued a letter Feb. 21 to all UN member states that “addressed the issue of implementing” Resolution 1718’s ban on the export of “luxury goods” to North Korea, a term the resolution did not define. “[A]ny definition of luxury goods…would be the national responsibility” of individual governments, his report said. Several countries, including Australia, Japan, and the United States, have banned the export of luxury goods to North Korea. (See ACT, December 2006.)

The resolutions also assigned several other tasks to the committees, such as determining whether any additional items should be restricted by the resolutions. Spatafora’s report indicated that committee members have submitted amendments to the existing lists of restricted goods. Verbeke said that his committee has not received any such requests.

The resolution also charges the committees with adding any individuals or entities to the UN restrictions list. Both committee chairs say they have yet to receive such a request.

Verbeke and Spatafora said the committees are in the process of preparing “guidelines” for implementing the resolutions, as required by the Security Council. The committees also are to “examine and take appropriate action on information regarding alleged violations” of the resolutions’ restrictions. Neither Verbeke nor Spatafora indicated that there is evidence of such violations.

Asked about press reports that Ethiopia had purchased military equipment from North Korea, Spatafora said the committee has not addressed the matter. According to an April 13 statement from Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry, the country received a shipment from North Korea in late January that “contained spare parts for machinery and engineering equipment and raw material for the making of assorted ammunition for small arms.” The shipment was paid for before Resolution 1718 was adopted, the statement added.