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UK PONI Roundtable: Project SANDSTONE – using open-source methods to expose North Korea’s illicit smuggling networks
North Korea’s continued development of their nuclear and ballistic missile programmes has led to the tightening of sanctions on the country. This includes a near complete ban on its main exports – such as coal, iron, lead and seafood – in an effort to deny the regime in Pyongyang of its key revenue streams. However, North Korea-linked procurement and proliferation networks have continued to operate internationally to evade both multilateral and unilateral economic sanctions. In doing so, North Korea has relied on a range of third-party actors, networks and complex front company structures to access the international financial system.
RUSI’s Project SANDSTONE is an independent initiative that uses open-source data mining and data fusion techniques to identify North Korea’s illicit smuggling activities and produce open-source intelligence and actionable evidence for those engaged in enforcement and the policy community.
What measures have North Korea’s illicit proliferation and procurement networks used to evade sanctions and how have they adapted? How do open-source methods contribute to identifying and exposing sanctions evasion activities? What are the challenges and limitations of using open-source methods?
This event will include a presentation introducing the tools and methods of open-source collection and analysis used by Project SANDSTONE and how they are used in three case studies of North Korean illicit smuggling activities. The presentation will be followed by an open discussion.
- Gary Somerville, Research Analyst, Proliferation and Nuclear Policy
- Joseph Byrne, Research Analyst, Proliferation and Nuclear Policy
- Paulina Izewicz, Associate Fellow at RUSI & Senior Research Associate and Project Manager at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS)
Gary Somerville is a Research Analyst at RUSI’s Proliferation and Nuclear Policy programme. His research interests include open-source intelligence collection and the analysis of illicit shipping networks. Prior to joining RUSI, Gary worked as an intern at the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre, where he was integral in the design and development of a matrix wargame simulation. In 2018, he completed an MA in Non-proliferation and International Security, where his dissertation examined the influence of Chinese strategic culture in the deployment of China’s ballistic missile submarines.
Joe Byrne is a Research Analyst at RUSI’s Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Team. His research focuses on Open Source Intelligence and Analysis of illicit shipping networks. Prior to joining RUSI in 2019, Joe worked at King’s College London research department Project Alpha and also at the European Council on Foreign Relations. Joe holds an MA in Intelligence and International Security from King’s College London.
Paulina Izewicz is an Associate Fellow at RUSI and a Senior Research Associate and Project Manager at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). Paulina’s work at CNS focuses on North Korea’s sanctions evasion in the maritime domain. Beyond that, her research interests include Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, sanctions and international law. Prior to joining CNS, Paulina was a Research Associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), where she managed programmatic work on sanctions and led a Track 1.5 dialogue with Iran; and Research Associate at the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, DC, where she focused on the technical aspects of Iran’s nuclear programme. Paulina holds an MA in International Relations, as well as a Certificate of Advanced Study in Security Studies, from Syracuse University, and an MA in Law from the University of Wroclaw.
For UK PONI members travelling from outside of London, a small travel bursary is available. To apply for a travel bursary, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, with your name, affiliation and a couple of sentences about why attending this event would be beneficial for you.