Nov 08, 2021 09:24 UTC
  • French Navy conducts surveillance op to enforce North Korea sanctions

A UN-appointed French naval crew has conducted surveillance operations above the Yellow Sea between North Korea and China, in search of what it describes as signs of contraband headed for North Korea.

According to Press TV, the team, which arrived in Japan in mid-October from its base in French Polynesia, is part of an international mission enforcing United Nations sanctions on Pyongyang by conducting surveillance trips from a US base in Okinawa.

“The UN sends us information on vessels suspected of illicit behavior," and then a flight plan is drawn up, Guillaume, a lieutenant commander, was quoted as saying by AFP.

The French team gathers as much information as possible on the vessels to send to the UN, which will investigate for violations Resolutions 2375 and 2397, limiting the sale, supply and transfer of natural gas and petroleum to North Korea, reports said.

"We're the eyes of the United Nations in the area," Guillaume, identified only by his first name, said. “In the context of the international tensions in the area, the goal is to avoid poisoning the situation. We have to be firm but courteous.”

North Korea has been subjected to harsh international economic sanctions since 2006 in relation to its ballistic missile programs and nuclear activities. The US has imposed several rounds of its own sanctions on the East Asian country, officially known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

French forces have taken part in regular surveillance missions since 2018 to enforce UN sanctions against North Korea, alongside eight other countries, and under the supervision of the Enforcement Coordination Cell responsible for implementing UN resolutions.

For Paris, these missions are also a way to increase its clout in the region, especially after unveiling its Indo-Pacific military strategy in 2019.

The UN Security Council imposed additional sanctions on North Korea in 2017 targeting the country’s export of coal, iron ore, seafood, textile and other products to limit its foreign currency.