India imported about 2.4 million dollars worth of iron and steel, iron and steel products, copper and zinc from North Korea last year and exported precious metals and stones worth USD 578,994 to the country in violation of UN Security Council resolutions banning such trade with North Korea, according to a report by an UN panel of experts.
According to a March report of the Panel of Experts established by the Secretary General regarding implementation of the sanctions and UNSC resolutions relating to North Korea, the country exported a total of USD 62,184,815 in iron and steel between January and September 2017 to Barbados, Bolivia, Chile, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, India, Ireland, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines and Russia.
"All exports after September 4, 2017 violated paragraph 8 of resolution 2371 (2017), while those before September 4 2017 violated paragraph 26 of resolution 2321 (2016) unless an exemption was made under paragraph 26 (c) of the same resolution," the report said.
Specifically, India imported USD 1.4 million worth of iron and steel from North Korea from January to September 2017, iron and steel products worth USD 234,759 and copper worth USD 242,997 in the January to September 2017 period.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea exported a total of USD 373,926 in copper to India and Mexico between January and September 2017 in violation of paragraph 28 of resolution 2321 (2016)," the report said.
Further, India imported zinc from North Korea from January to September 2017 worth 526,018 dollars.
"The Democratic People's Republic of Korea exported a total of $526,018 in zinc to India in January 2017 in violation of paragraph 28 of resolution 2321 (2016)," the report added.
It further said that according to UN Comtrade, from January to June 2017, India exported precious metals and stones worth USD 578,994 to North Korea. The largest commodity exported from January to June 2017 was diamonds worth USD 514,823.
"The Panel reiterates that the jewellery items listed in paragraph 1 of annex IV to resolution 2094 (2013) correspond to HS codes beginning with 71 and calls upon Member States to exercise vigilance with regard to any exports of goods classified under that code," it said.
The report also includes a letter dated July 14, 2017 from the Permanent Mission of India to the UN that states that "During the period of March 2 2016 (date of adoption of resolution 2270) to November 30 2016 (date of adoption of resolution 2321), there was no clarity regarding the scope of the measures related to iron and iron ore since there was on elaboration/explanation of the word iron' and iron ore'.
Till date there is no implementation assistance notice issued by the UN that stipulates a practice for identifying an item as iron' or 'iron ore', " the Indian Mission said in the letter.
The Mission further wrote that "pending clarity on this issue", national implementation of the measures contained in UNSC resolutions 2270 and 2321 relating to iron and iron ore was nevertheless carried out by the Government of India through a notification issued by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) on March 21, 2017.
The Mission said that for these reasons, there was no restriction on the import of iron ore and iron into India from North Korea during the period March 2, 2016 to March 20, 2017.
The report also said that North Korea exported a total of USD 305,713 of products of iron and steel to China, Egypt, France, India, Ireland and Mexico between October 2016 and May 2017.
"These exports constitute a violation of paragraph 26 of resolution 2321 (2016) unless an exemption is made by the importing Member State under paragraph 26 (c) of the resolution," it said.
North Korea exported USD 215,782 worth of gold in October 2016 to India in violation of paragraph 30 of resolution 2270 (2016).
India requested "clarity" on the scope of measures relating to iron and iron ore, saying in the letter that it "stands ready" to share its national experience on implementation of the measures related to iron and iron ore, sectoral bans and luxury goods ban covered in resolutions 2270, 2321 which have entered into force vide the aforesaid notification issued by the DGFT on March 21 2017.
"India would request that this submission be included in the next mid-term review of the UNSC 1874 Panel of Experts," it said in the letter.
In March this year, India had imposed fresh restrictions on trade with North Korea in line with the restrictions imposed by the United Nations.
As per a notification of the DGFT in the commerce ministry, "supply, sale, transfer or export" of crude oil will be subjected to the restrictions imposed by the UN Security Council. Certain curbs have also been imposed on export of industrial machinery, iron, steel and other metals, the notification had said.
In October last year, the DGFT had imposed restrictions on trade in condensates and natural gas liquids, refined petroleum products.The bilateral trade between India and North Korea declined to USD 133.43 million in 2016-17 from USD 198.78 million in the previous fiscal.