UN experts uncovered at least 40 previously unreported shipments by North Korea to Syria between 2012 and 2017 of prohibited ballistic missile parts and materials that could be used for both military and civilian purposes


Washington (February 27, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the East Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today commended the United Nations Panel of Experts’ report that reveals North Korea’s continuing collaboration with Syria on chemical weapons. Senator Markey called for new sanctions against North Korea for this latest illicit behavior, including by cutting off North Korea’s access to crude oil, and for tightening current sanctions enforcement to slow down North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.


“North Korea is making a mockery of the international effort to stem weapons proliferation,” said Senator Markey. “While this problem is not new, the Trump administration’s efforts to sanction North Korea are insufficient to curb North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program or bring King Jung Un to the negotiating table. As the international community continues to tighten sanctions against North Korea, we will continue to see the depth of North Korea’s terrible behavior. Instead of playing whack-a-mole with North Korea, the Trump administration needs to cut off crude oil to North Korea to help compel the regime to negotiate. The Trump administration needs to develop a comprehensive strategy that includes the toughest possible sanctions, robust sanctions enforcement, coupled with meaningful diplomatic engagement. 


“I am also concerned that the Trump administration’s hollowing-out of the State Department will do long-term damage to our foreign policy, especially the critical priority of North Korea,” continued Senator Markey.  “The retirement of the State Department’s top North Korea negotiator Ambassador Joe Yun has made the task more difficult.  In addition to losing this key envoy, we now lack an Ambassador to South Korea, a Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues, and a Sanctions Coordinator. The Trump administration must fill these positions and launch a credible diplomatic process before it is too late.”


In October 2017, Senators Markey and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) introduced legislation in recognition of the need to develop a coherent and multifaceted North Korea strategy combining diplomatic engagement, sanctions, and a stronger alliance between the United States and South Korea.


Earlier this month, Senator Markey called on the State Department to explain how it is able to implement North Korea-related diplomatic and sanctions enforcement efforts in light of drastic budget cuts, high-level position eliminations, and staffing reassignments.