African Country Ties with North Korea Spark UN Inquiry

By: Adam King
Impunity Watch News Reporter, Africa

Kim Yong Nam, President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea, visiting Uganda. Image courtesy of AP.

NEW YORK, New York – The United Nations is actively investigating purported military  ties between North Korea and several African countries.  The probe comes at a time where the whole world has turned its attention to the recent actions of North Korea.  Two African countries in particular, Uganda and Tanzania, face accusations of violating sanctions imposed by the UN by engaging in prohibited economic exchange. Tanzania is accused of engaging in business ventures with North Korea estimated to be worth $12.5 million.

Some African countries have maintained relationships with North Korea since the early 1960s.  In fact, North Korea has supported several African countries during and after the Cold War:

“The relationship between North Korea and Africa dates back to the Cold War where the country was looking to find allies among newly liberated, socialist countries in Africa. Like China and Russia, it was looking to stamp out western influence on the continent, and present its adversary, South Korea, as a puppet of the US.”

Uganda in particular shares particular proclivities with North Korea related to opinions of the  United States:

“President Yoweri Museveni has proven to share North Korea’s disdain for western foreign policy and influence. Museveni, whose party members recently proposed to extend the age limit for heads of state, has hosted a banquet for North Korean diplomats in Uganda and defended his relationship with the country, once describing them as “friends who have helped Uganda for a long time.”

Uganda and North Korea have faced scathing criticism regarding human rights violations in their respective countries. A large portion of the transactions that continue between North Korea and African nations are military related. Transactions include enhancing missile capabilities to military vehicles, “In Mozambique, for example, the experts said they are looking into the reported supply of shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, air defense systems, other surface-to-air missiles and radar by a North Korean trading company.” 

Many African countries do not have the capability to produce the weapons they are acquiring from North Korea. In turn, North Korea is utilizing relationships with African countries to spread their technological innovations around the world for a lucrative profitMany of the weapons proliferated across the African continent are exported from foreign entities, which give continuous fuel for protracted conflicts.

For more information, please see:

Quartz — Eleven African countries will be probed by the UN over their military ties in North Korea — 14 September 2017 

All Africa — Uganda: UN Probes Tanzania and Uganda Deals With North Korea — 13 September 2017

The Citizen — Tanzania in trouble over North Korean sanctions — 12 September 2017 

LA Times — UN Experts: North Korea exported $270 million illegally recently — 10 September 2017 

The Washington Post — North Korea’s surprising, lucrative relationship with Africa — 10 July 2017 

The Guardian — Global weapons trade targets Africa as imports to Algeria and Morocco soar — 20 March 2015 

Author: Adam King

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