US Warns Checking North Korean Airspace Safety Would Violate UN Sanctions

Civil Aviation Organization sees opening airspace as reducing risk of missile tests

The Trump Administration’s determination to enforce UN sanctions on North Korea with a level of strictness bordering on spitefulness is once again running afoul of a UN agency trying to do something relatively routine.

In this case, the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) had met with North Korea to discuss reopening their airspace to civilian airline traffic. Doing so would require a safety audit, but would make sense since North Korea is no longer conducting large amounts of unannounced missile tests that would threaten such planes.

So ICAO started planning the audit, and then the US showed up to object to the idea, arguing that the technology involved in auditing airspace safety could have military uses, and therefore North Korea couldn’t be allowed to have that.

ICAO tried to downplay the matter, saying there is often “negotiation and advance consultation” before they start an audit. As with connecting a road between North and South Korea, however, the US seems to just openly object to anything that might seem to benefit North Korea as necessarily in violation of their interpretation of the sanctions.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of