France bolsters multinational effort to uphold North Korea sanctions

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FORUM Staff

France contributed additional support in October and November 2022 to an international force tasked with deterring nuclear proliferation in North Korea. The Armed Forces in French Polynesia deployed a Falcon F-200 Guardian aircraft, pictured, to provide maritime surveillance with the multinational Enforcement Coordination Cell (ECC) headquartered in Yokosuka, Japan.

As part of the coalition, France works alongside Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) sanctions against North Korea. The restrictions result from Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which the U.N. says threaten international security.

Much of the ECC mission centers on deterring the illicit movement of oil and ship-to-ship transfers in the East China Sea and Korea Bay, according to the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) 2019 Indo-Pacific Strategy Report. North Korea has continually turned to offshore transfers to circumvent sanctions on the import of petroleum products, according to the U.N. Security Council.

Launched in 2018, the ECC coordinates the maritime component of sanctions enforcement. The nine partners monitor vessel activity off the Korean Peninsula, contributing warships and surveillance aircraft to prevent prohibited shipments, The Wall Street Journal newspaper reported.

“The ECC allows us to work closely with our allies and partners to manage, coordinate and de-conflict our efforts and is an important facilitator of transparent collaboration between our allies and partners at sea and in the air,” the DOD reported.

French Armed Forces assets in the Pacific include surveillance frigates, patrol ships, high-seas support ships, helicopters and surveillance aircraft, such as the F-200 Guardian, Adm. Jean-Mathieu Rey, head of Navy foreign relations, told FORUM in 2021. He added that those assets can be reinforced with vessels or aircraft from mainland France.

The F-200’s pulse compression radar can identify large vessels at up to 140 nautical miles, the French Ministry of the Armed Forces said in a news release. “In the context of renewed tensions, [participation with the ECC] will enable France to demonstrate its commitment to respect for international law and its commitment to combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

The F-200s are based in French overseas territories as part of the French Navy’s 25F flotilla. Also in October 2022, an F-200 from the same fleet deployed from Clark Air Base in the Philippines for the Sama Sama maritime security exercise between the Philippine Navy and U.S. Navy, conducted simultaneously with the Lumbas 2022 drills between the Philippine Navy and Royal Australian Navy.

The exercises, which also included Japan and the U.K., brought together naval and air forces to increase interoperability in areas including rescues at sea, anti-aircraft combat, refueling at sea and maritime surveillance, the French Armed Forces Ministry said.

Together with the Armed Forces in New Caledonia, the Armed Forces in French Polynesia ensure the sovereignty of French territories in the Indo-Pacific, provide humanitarian assistance during natural disasters, combat growing threats such as illegal trafficking, and affirm the nation’s commitment to international law and freedom of navigation.

IMAGE CREDIT: FRENCH MINISTRY OF THE ARMED FORCES

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