Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Only One Percent of Russian-North Korean Trade Affected by Putin’s Joining Sanctions Regime

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 18 – As often happens, Vladimir Putin has been given credit for something that on closer examination appears to be far less than Russian and Western media are saying. In this case, the BBC’s Russian Service has found that his joining the UN sanctions regime against North Korea will affect only one percent of Russian-North Korean trade. 

            On Monday, the Kremlin leader signed a decree strengthening sanctions against North Korea, a move many welcomed as a sign that Putin wants to be more cooperative with the international system. But the numbers show how remarkably little this may cost him and his country (

                The UN sanctions are intended to prevent North Korea from gaining any components that it might use for nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and includes a ban on dual-use technologies as well.  So far this year, Russia exported 400,000 US dollars’ worth of goods that would now be banned; last year, it sold Pyongyang one million dollars’ worth of such goods.

            Russia’s main exports to North Korea have been coal, food products including vodka, and medicines.  North Korea in turn has exported only about a tenth as much to Russia as Russia has exported to it, with a third of its total being clothes. 

            Putin has also promised that Russia will stop all scientific-technical cooperation with North Korea except in the areas of medicine, nuclear medicine, and aircraft and aviation technology, as long as it secures guarantees that this cooperation will not promote the development of Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

            The Kremlin leader also agreed that all North Koreans working in Russia at jobs other than diplomatic ones are to be deported and that Pyongyang is prohibited from using any property in Russia except for diplomatic and consular work. 

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