U.N. report urges countries hosting N. Korea missions to be vigilant
A U.N. report released Monday has urged nations hosting North Korean embassies, missions or trade offices to be on guard against diplomats and officials covertly facilitating illicit trade in nuclear arms or other prohibited items.
"Countries hosting embassies, permanent missions or trade representative offices of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea should be particularly vigilant regarding its diplomats and officials," the roughly 130 page report said, referring to North Korea's official name.
Information provided by authorities in Ukraine and Belarus indicates two North Korean representatives accredited through their country's trade office in Belarus traveled in 2011 to Ukraine, where they approached an employee at Yuzhnoye Design Office, a former developer of medium-range ballistic missiles, seeking to gain access to photos of secret academic theses.
The pair was ultimately unable to obtain the information they sought. It could have provided them with advanced technologies that could have been used for developing missile systems.
The two were arrested and sentenced in 2012 to eight years in prison.
The report also cited activities carried out by Yun Ho Jin, who represented the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna from 1993-1998, for "running an illicit procurement network and conducting other illicit and criminal activities out of his country's embassy in Vienna." In 2009 he was designated as an individual subject to a travel ban and assets freeze.
"It is highly likely that similar activities are conducted out of the country's other embassies, diplomatic missions and commercial and trade missions abroad," the report said.
|North Korean agents given passports by Kiribati and the Seychelles|
In the Congo a diplomat and a Korean People's Army senior colonel were reported to have been involved in the illicit refurbishment of armored vehicles and other military equipment and had used diplomatic bank accounts to transfer those funds.
Compiled annually by the so-called panel of experts -- comprised of members from Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, as well as one member each from Japan and South Korea -- the report was made public without objection from Beijing, which as the North's closest ally has objected in the past.
All of the actions are in violation of previous resolutions stemming from Pyongyang conducting its first underground nuclear test in 2006, which was followed by two more tests in 2009 and most recently in February.
"The use of foreign passports by nationals of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea who engage in illicit or suspicious activities also merits attention," the report said.
The report confirmed that two North Koreans were under investigation for allegedly purchasing passports from Kiribati and then changing them to ones issued by Seychelles.
Also contained in the document is the panel's recommendation to designate four entities and eleven persons for blacklisting.
They include the new Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry, the Munitions Industry Department of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers' Party, the State Space Development Bureau and the Hesong Trading Corp.
The individuals include high ranking officials affiliated with the various entities, as well as two individuals from Ukraine and one from Kazakhstan.
"In both its export and import of goods under sanctions, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea continues to use a variety of techniques to circumvent national controls, indicating that the imposition of sanctions has hampered its arms sales and illicit weapon programs," the report said.
The panel was initially appointed by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in 2009 and is mandated by the Security Council to continue its work through April of next year.
While there were initially seven members selected by Ban, an eighth from South Africa is slated to join the panel in the near future.
The panel made 52 visits to 28 countries in order to follow through on information during their reporting period.
Kyodo News International
June 25, 2013 00:03