Enforcing Sanctions on North Korea is an Opportunity for Cooperation at Sea

War on the Rocks – Since January 2018, a game of cops and robbers has played out in the 1,000-nautical-mile stretch of ocean between Taiwan and the 38th parallel. The “robbers” are dozens of Chinese, Taiwanese, Liberian, Sri Lankan, and unflagged tankers engaged in the illicit transfer of sanctioned goods to North Korea and incentivized by a low-risk, high-reward payoff structure. The “cops” are a multinational coalition known as the Enforcement Coordination Cell, consisting of the United States and its Five Eyes partners (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom) alongside South Korea, Japan, and France. The coalition enforces the maritime component of United Nations Security Council resolutions — 2375 and 2397 — designed to deter and punish North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear tests by limiting its import and export of petroleum, coal, iron, lead, and seafood products.