To those who view South Asia as a dangerous and unstable region, the fact is that the world's leading powers including the United States had up till now played a vital role in making India a leading player in the region. It is an interesting thought experiment to consider the potential aftermath of Indian exemptions since her relations transformed from containment to engagement. There is no doubt that all the elements in the current situation, most particularly the favoritism India has since 2005, shows that cementing friendship with an up-and-coming power such as India is worth breaking rules for one’s own interests? But honestly speaking that was truly not an option.

If India is allowed to become nuclear power just because a powerful country like the US believe it is in the US's interest to do so, what will prevent another powerful country to do the same thing for another country in the future?

The fact of the matter is that these noncommittal waivers without using a moral compass has seriously dented the balance of power in the region.  Amazingly, India today presents an incontrovertible picture of serious instability and volatility. Now to swing the pendulum of global issues let’s take a look at the most recent report regarding North Korea and the trade links India has, which was kept aside despite the UN sanctions on North Korea.

Recently, on 5th March, the United Nations Panel of Experts (UN PoE) on North Korea released its latest report. The report published details regarding the advancement North Korea is doing since decades.

Remembering the address, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in his SEOUL  stated that:

"The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat," Kim said in the annual address. "

He further warns United States (US) of Reality of its Nuclear Program adding:

"This year, we should focus on mass-producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment. These weapons will be used only if our society is threatened."

After that the war of words continued in Trump's address to the United Nations in September, when the president referred to Kim as a "Rocket Man" on a suicide mission.

Kim responded in a statement that described Trump as a "dotard," which means senile, and that described his behavior as "mentally deranged."

The US intelligence assessments estimate that with nukes numbering between 25 and 60, North Korea poses major security threat for the US mainland and its allies in Europe. Despite severe economic sanctions, one wonders, how North Korean scientists learned sophistication in Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capabilities? How did that become possible?

Unquestionably, (UN PoE) report revealed that the essential training of North Korean Scientists who are part of Pyongyang’s nuclear program is acquired from the north Indian institute Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific (CSSTEAP). The scientists also got training in programs related to space and satellite technologies. North Korea kept sending scientists and space employees, even after the UN issued the first set of nuclear sanctions in 2006, prohibiting member countries from providing technical training to North Korea. This Nuke-missile extravaganza continued where in 2016, it was reported that the DPRK had sent 30 students over the last two decades to the CSSTEAP in India.

In an interview to Al-Jazeera, Hong Yong-il,who studied at CSSTEAP, praised center for informative courses. Interestingly UN Panel of Experts (PoE) report notes that “(Participation) in the space and atmospheric science and global navigation satellite systems courses is a ballistic missile-related activity prohibited under the resolutions”.

While Indian officials have downplayed the links between these courses and WMD development, the North Korean government’s appointment of Paek Chong-ho, a CSSTEAP alumnus, to a senior leadership position in the agency governing Pyongyang’s 2012 satellite launch, gives credibility to UN officials’ concerns.

Interestingly, India is one of the few countries that despite international sanctions maintained cordial relations with North Korea. Recent report also highlighted that a bilateral trade of $68,383 took place from October 2017 to March 2018. Hence, India seems to be in clear violation of Paragraph 8 of the resolution 2371 (2017). Additionally, India also imported silver, copper, zinc, nickel and gold from the DPRK which is violation of UNSC sanction. This clandestine import-export relationship between India and North Korea enabled later to sustain a costly nuclear program.

Last year, analysis by the cyber security firm Recorded Future provided a thorough analysis of heavy North Korean internet activity in India. It was found that the North Korean hackers were simply routing their attacks through the country’s computers from abroad. The report also stated that the hackers involved in cyber-attacks are now physically stationed in countries like India, where it is believed that nearly one-fifth of Pyongyang’s cyber attacks now originate.

Nearly 12 years have passed since the UN sanctions regime on North Korea was created, yet world’s powerful states have ignored these extravaganzas and if the same had happened in Pakistan, it would have been a global issue. The influential powers kept their heads deep in sand which nonetheless shows their lack of resolve and seriousness about the issue. India’s facilitation of Korean students still remains a mystery despite UN PoE reports and subsequent investigative reports by mainstream media. There must be no exemption for India as the dynamics are only going to become more challenging if countries like India keep climbing out of the sanctions maze.