A performance troupe from Russia arrives in Pyongyang on April 12, 2018 during a cultural exchange and arts festival.
Ed Jones—AFP/Getty Images
By Laignee Barron
August 3, 2018

Russia has continued to issue work permits to North Koreans despite a U.N. ban aimed at pressuring a cash-strapped Pyongyang into ending its nuclear weapons program by cutting off its revenue streams, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Last September, the U.N. Security Council imposed new sanctions on Kim Jong Un’s regime, including labor prohibitions that barred governments from granting work permits to North Koreans. Most of the funds earned by overseas North Koreans reportedly wind up in government hands in a practice human rights advocates liken to modern slavery.

In a move that may violate the U.N. sanctions, Russia has allowed 10,000 North Koreans workers to sign up in the federation, Interior Ministry records obtained by the Journal reveal. At least 700 new work permits were issued this year.

The companies behind the hiring windfall may also be flouting a second sanction as they appear to be joint ventures with North Korean firms, according to the Journal. The U.N. bars “all joint ventures or cooperative entities” with North Koreans.

Yet Russian companies owned and operated by North Koreans appear to be expanding, with new offices, working permits and projects, the Journal reports.

“The Kim regime continues to dispatch citizens abroad,” said a new report from the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, a nonprofit that advises the U.S. government on security issues. “In doing so, it continues to flout international sanctions to generate foreign currency.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has previously said it accepted the U.N. sanctions policies.

Washington has recently accused both China and Russia of turning a blind eye on activities that skirt the ban, undercutting the goal of stemming the rogue nation’s access to global cash flows. Both China and Russia have been accused of helping North Korea obtain illicit petroleum imports, according to the Journal.

Write to Laignee Barron at Laignee.Barron@timeinc.com.

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