For several years, a collection of partners led by the United States has been working together to disrupt the DPRK-related oil smuggling operations that support the regime’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs. The UN Security Council’s most recent resolution—adopted in December 2017—prohibits all DPRK coal exports, and it caps the total amount of refined petroleum products the DPRK may import at 500,000 barrels per year. Despite these international sanctions, assessments from the DPRK-related UN Panel of Experts reports indicate that the DPRK breaches that cap every year through elaborate black market networks and clandestine ship-to-ship transfers on the high seas.
To combat the DPRK’s flagrant violations of these UN Security Council resolutions, the Pacific Security Maritime Exchange—or PSMX—was created. The PSMX is a cooperative network of allies and partners and a symbol of the shared commitment by PSMX members to uphold international law, rules, and norms. Since 2018, the United States has supported this information-sharing initiative with fellow PSMX partners: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, and the United Kingdom. We all recognize that the DPRK’s subversion of international sanctions must not go unchecked.
A key component of the PSMX is its Enforcement Coordination Cell comprised of personnel from PSMX partner nations focused on facilitating and enhancing collaboration. The Enforcement Coordination Cell monitors the DPRK’s illicit activities and coordinates partner nation actions at sea and in the air to track, disrupt, and deter those illicit activities.
The PSMX prevents the DPRK from skirting UN sanctions by:
- Identifying smuggling ships. PSMX partner nations identify, track, and report on dozens of vessels involved in illicit oil smuggling.
- Raising the cost of sanctions evasions. Identifying smuggling ships raises the cost for the DPRK to undermine UN sanctions, forcing the regime to create more intricate, expensive, and complicated smuggling networks.
- Disrupting black market networks. By identifying illicit maritime activity, the PSMX helps disband entire networks of people and entities helping the DPRK violate UN sanctions.