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UN: North Korean Airline Facing Growing Restrictions

FILE - An Air Koryo passenger jet bound for Beijing prepares for takeoff. North Korea national airline is facing more repercussions from the sanctions imposed by the United Nations last January.

North Korea’s national carrier is facing repercussions from the United Nations Security Council sanctions adopted after the regime’s defiant nuclear test last January, as more and more countries join the list of those banning North Korean commercial jets.

Pursuant to U.N. Security Council Resolution 2270, which are known to be the toughest sanctions against the North, the Malaysian government has banned Air Koryo from taking off from or landing in any airports under its jurisdiction, according to a report recently issued by the Security Council.

International sanctions

“Malaysia has taken the necessary actions through aviation authorities to deny any DPRK aircraft permission to take off from, land in or overfly Malaysia, based on the guidelines of the Malaysian Aviation Commission Act 2015,” said the Malaysian mission to the U.N. in New York.

The North Korean airline, which opened an air route from Pyongyang to Kuala Lumpur in 2011 and offered regular service once a week, took the last flight to the Malaysian capital June 8, 2014, according to the report.

Before Malaysia’s action, other countries had begun to implement the U.N. sanctions, denying Air Koryo from entering their territories.

In October, Sami Eid, air transport director of Kuwait International Airport, told VOA by email that the Kuwaiti government prohibited Air Koryo from landing in the country’s airport.

Increasingly grounded

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the move and thanked the government of Kuwait for “efforts to help counter the proliferation” of the communist state. The Kuwait City-bound flights had been operating from Pyongyang since 2011.

Pakistan, a refueling stop between Pyongyang and Kuwait, also told VOA in July that its aviation authorities had decided to deny North Korean flights access to Benazir Bhutto Islamabad International Airport, in compliance with the U.N. Security Council’s resolutions against the regime’s arms development. The last stopover made by the North Korean flag carrier was June 28, 2016.

In April, Air Koryo suspended its operation of flights to Bangkok, shortly after the Thai government hinted at possible actions against the carrier while endorsing Resolution 2270.

The U.N. Security Council Resolution 2270, which came on the heels of North Korea’s fourth nuclear weapons test in January 2016, calls for all member states to “deny permission to any [North Korean flagged] aircraft to take off from, land in or overfly, unless under the condition of landing for inspection.”

Jenny Lee contributed to this report.