India has decided to supply only food and medicines to Pyongyang, adhering to UN Security Council sanctions that prevent the trade of any item North Korea could otherwise use to add to its military’s operational capabilities. Through an official gazette dated April 21, the Narendra Modi government has barred any Indian citizen or firm from supplying to Pyongyang arms, any nuclear related material or technology, or any other material that would enhance North Korea’s ballistic-missile capabilities.
Besides, the gazette bans all military or police training to North Korean official in India. India has maintained low-key diplomatic ties with North Korea over the years, and New Delhi’s interactions have been largely restricted to providing food supplies.
In 2015, India hosted the North Korean Foreign Minister in an attempt to deliver the Pyongyang leadership a message to delink from Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Hence, New Delhi’s current action is significant amid the rising US pressure on North Korea. The gazette also suggests the expulsion of any North Korean government representative found violating the UN sanctions.
Training of North Korean individuals in advanced physics, aeronautical engineering, and nuclear engineering in India has also been banned. Indian nationals have also been advised not to register ships in North Korea.
According to a copy of the “Implementation of Security Council Resolution on Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Order, 2017” available with ET, the government has barred the hosting of trainers, advisors, or other officials for the purpose of military-, paramilitary- or police-related training. The Gazette further prohibits bunkering services, such as provision of fuel or supplies, or other servicing of vessels, to North Korean vessels if there are reasonable grounds to believe that they are carrying items prohibited by the UN resolutions.
The gazette says that the government shall have the powers to “prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale, transfer or export, through its territories or by its nationals…to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, of (i) any battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems as defined for the purpose of the United Nations Register on Conventional Arms, or related material including spare parts.”
ET View: Sound Move
India’s move is sound. There are little gains from continued supply of any goods or services other than medicine and food too North Korea. Given the latter’s close relationship with China, there are no diplomatic or strategic gains for broader engagement either. Instead, New Delhi gains far more working with countries to isolate North Korea, especially given the dangers it poses for close partners such as South Korea and Japan. New Delhi should also leverage this move to undescore the point that it is a responsible power.