KEY POINTS

  • A UN report says that North Korea continued to expand its missile and nuclear programs last year, violating UN sanctions
  • North Korea used "illicit external procurement" to obtain commodities such as coal and refined petroleum for its economy
  • Pyongyang has grown frustrated with sanctions, and has not managed to reach an agreement with Washington

A confidential U.N. report accuses North Korea of expanding its nuclear and missile programs in 2019 in violation of sanctionssanctions, Reuter reported Monday. The report is set to be made public next month.

“In 2019, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [DPRK] did not halt its illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which it continued to enhance, in violation of Security Council resolutions,” the report said. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the formal name of North Korea. 

North Korea has said it would continue to conduct missile and nuclear tests if the United States and the international community refused to lift sanctions.

North Korea carried out 13 missile tests last year, the U.N. report said. Siegfried Hecker, a nuclear scientist at Stanford University, told the Wall Street Journal in June that North Korea could be capable of producing six or seven nuclear bombs a year.

The U.N. report also accused Pyongyang of using “illicit external procurement for some components and technology,” such as using its ships to move millions of metric tons of coal to Chinese barges, evading international sanctions. China has said it is complying with U.N. sanctions on North Korea.

“According to a member state, the DPRK exported 3.7 million metric tons of coal between January and August 2019, with an estimated value of $370 million,” the report said. 

North Korea also supposedly imported refined petroleum above a U.N.-set cap of 500,000 barrels between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31 last year.

North Korea and the U.S. have been negotiating a nuclear deal over the past two years, with Pyongyang pursuing a path of denuclearization in exchange for reduced sanctions on its economy. The last time U.S. and North Koreans met on the issue was in Sweden in November, with diplomatic talks falling through on the first day of discussions. 

President Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in February 2019 and June 2018 -- the first sitting president to meet with the North Korean leader -- but the approach did not result in any concrete agreement. North Korea has said that it felt “deceived” by the U.S.