Myanmar shut North Korean restaurant in 2018 due to sanctions, government confirms

Questions over two countries’ military ties raised in recent UN report remain unanswered, however A North Korean restaurant in Yangon, Myanmar thought to have closed in 2018 due to international pressure was closed by the government in accordance with UN sanctions measures, according to a report to the UN made public in the past week.

The Pyongyang Koryo Restaurant “was instructed to close down” in early 2018, an implementation submitted by the government of Myanmar to the UN’s 1718 committee, said.

Stay permits for 21 North Korean nationals were not allowed to be extended, it added.

“All of those nationals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea left Myanmar on 25 March 2018.”

The report was Myanmar’s second submitted to the UN committee in charge of sanctions on North Korea, dated June 18 but only released late last week.

It did not, however, include language explicitly stating all North Korean workers in the country had been repatriated, as required by December 19 this year under sanctions passed in late 2017.

Outlets including the BBC’s Burmese service and The Irrawaddy reported last year that the restaurant was closed in early March 2018, and that a U.S. embassy spokesperson connected the closure to pressure from Washington.

Though the move was widely speculated to have been due to be linked to sanctions, last week’s UN implementation report confirms the reasoning, while reiterating Myanmar’s claim to be “fully committed to the implementation of Security Council resolutions.”

It also said “the Government of Myanmar has instructed all relevant ministries, agencies and regional governments to fully implement the provisions of both resolutions [passed in late 2017] by issuing a presidential order dated 15 January 2018.”

Questions remain, however, over other areas of Myanmar’s sanctions compliance not mentioned in the short implementation report.

According to the latest Panel of Experts (PoE) report released by the UN’s 1718 Sanctions Committee, the Panel was as of March this year still awaiting evidence from Naypyidaw backing their claim that military cooperation with Pyongyang had truly ceased.

In the country’s first implementation report submitted to the UN committee in October 2017, Myanmar detailed its expulsion of a diplomat working in the DPRK embassy in the country who was also found to be working as a North Korean weapons dealer.

The government said they identified Kim Chol Nam as a representative of the sanctioned Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID), which was designated by the UN in 2009 as the North’s “primary arms dealer.”

That followed Pyongyang’s recall of the DPRK’s ambassador to Myanmar Kim Sok Chol in March 2016 after he was sanctioned by the U.S. and South Korea – also for doubling as an agent for KOMID.

Then, according to the 2019 PoE report, Myanmar sent the Panel a letter in March 2018 claiming there “had been no military cooperation” between the two countries since October 2016 and that “no Myanmar technicians are stationed in the DPRK at present.”

But the PoE said that Myanmar was yet to provide answers to requests for evidence of both “the return of all Myanmar technicians from the [DPRK]” and vice versa.

Further details on any remaining relationship between KOMID and Myanmar were not mentioned in the latest implementation report.

The report did, however, go on to say that Myanmar is a “strong advocate of nuclear disarmament” and that it supports the ongoing denuclearization negotiations between the U.S. and the DPRK.

Myanmar and North Korea continue to maintain comparatively close ties, with current DPRK ambassador Jong Ho Bom meeting director general of the foreign ministry’s political department U Soe Han twice since April.

A message from the North’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho to his counterpart Aung San Suu Kyi in January this year said the “long-standing friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries would further develop,” according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The two have not exchanged high-level delegations since September 2015, however, when then-foreign minister Ri Su Yong led a delegation to Myanmar.

Source: NK News Org

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