March 2020 - Operation NEON (Asia-Pacific)

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This page was proactively published to meet the requirements of the Access to Information Act. It is a historical record which was valid when published, but may now contain information which is out of date.


  • Operation NEON is Canada’s contribution to multinational efforts to monitor and deter North Korean maritime sanctions evasion activities and consists of Canadian Armed Forces air and maritime assets, as well as personnel.
  • Operation NEON is a tangible and high-profile example of Canada’s commitment to the Asia-Pacific region and to countering threats that challenge the rules-based international order.


  • Through Operation NEON, Canada periodically deploys a naval frigate, a supply vessel, and long range patrol aircraft to monitor maritime areas where North Korean sanctions evasion activities are taking place, including the East China Sea.
  • The Canadian Armed Forces may also provide up to three permanent liaison officers to the Enforcement Coordination Cell, a multinational staff headquarters, [REDACTED]. The liaison officers help to compile and disseminate information gathered during Operation NEON to allies and partners. [REDACTED]
  • When conducting operations, Canadian naval vessels may consist of up to 255 personnel, while long range patrol aircraft will deploy with up to 40 personnel. In addition to its three permanent Liaison Officers, [REDACTED].
  • These military assets and personnel work to locate, deter, and collect evidence on ship-to-ship transfers of sanctioned materials (primarily, refined petroleum products such as diesel). Relevant evidence collected [REDACTED] reviewed by the United Nations (UN) to support its efforts to address states, companies, or other entities that are facilitating North Korean sanctions evasion.
  • This data is also used to help contributing nations to refine their operations and improve their ability to detect and report on sanctions violators. In some cases, this evidence can be used by states to deregister offending vessels. Furthermore, individual states or the UN Security Council can impose sanctions against specific offenders, thus ensuring there are consequences for sanctions evasions.
  • [REDACTED], an unclassified set of Canadian data is transferred to Global Affairs Canada, who have contracted the Royal United Services Institute to conduct a deep analysis of the data using open-source information. The Royal United Services Institute prepares and releases reports to Global Affairs Canada that highlight and identify networks and individuals that may be involved in activity that supports sanctions violations (e.g. financing, insuring, etc.). Some reports have been shared with partner nations, and the intent is to further share a consolidated report with the UN.


  • In April 2019, the Government of Canada created Operation NEON, building on previous ad hoc sanctions enforcement operations conducted in 2018. It carries an associated annual estimated cost of $8.3 million. Operation NEON [REDACTED], in order to provide the Canadian Armed Forces with flexibility when conducting deployments. The operation will be eligible for review upon the end of its current mandate on 30 April 2021. 
  • As stated in Canada’s defence policy, Strong Secure Engaged, one of the Canadian Armed Forces’ core missions is to support international peace and stabilization operations with multinational partners, including the UN. Furthermore, it stresses the importance of enhancing Canada’s presence and efforts in the Asia-Pacific in order to support the rules-based international order.
  • Strong Secure Engaged, also underlines the threat posed by North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs to regional and international peace and security. To be an active partner when supporting traditional alliances and assuring global stability, Canada must bring value-added contributions to the region, especially when helping to address its most significant challenges.
  • Similarly, Canada’s foreign policy emphasizes the importance of finding a durable diplomatic solution to the threat posed by North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction programs. Sanctions pressure is a key tool to compel North Korea to return to the negotiating table, with the ultimate aim of convincing it to completely, verifiably, and irreversibly dismantle its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.
  • Canada is also committed to supporting the UN and global efforts to uphold the international sanctions regime levied against North Korea. [REDACTED]

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