City firm flies into nu­clear stand­off

Waikato Times - - Front Page - THOMAS MANCH

New Zealand air­craft man­u­fac­turer Pa­cific Aero­space has pleaded guilty to un­law­fully ex­port­ing air­craft parts to North Korea.

The Hamil­ton firm broke both New Zealand law and United Na­tions sanc­tions when it in­di­rectly sent air- craft parts to the her­mit state in Fe­bru­ary 2016.

The de­vel­op­ment comes as ten­sions con­tinue to rise on the Korean Penin­sula with US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un locked in a war of words over Py­ongyang’s in­creas­ing nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity.

The US is try­ing to stran­gle North Korea eco­nom­i­cally through sanc­tions to give up its nu­clear am­bi­tions, while Kim has ac­cused the US of declar­ing war and threat­ened to det­o­nate a nu­clear de­vice over the Pa­cific as a demon­stra­tion of his coun­try’s abil­ity.

Ap­pear­ing at Manukau District Court yes­ter­day, Pa­cific Aero­space’s defence lawyer Emily Rush­brooke con­firmed guilty pleas to three charges for the in­di­rect ex­port of air­craft parts to North Korea.

The com­pany also pleaded guilty to mak­ing an er­ro­neous dec­la­ra­tion on a cus­toms ex­port form.

Both Pa­cific Aero­space chief ex­ec­u­tive Damian Camp, present at the

hear­ing, and New Zealand Cus­toms de­clined to com­ment after the hear­ing.

Judge John Bergseng set down sen­tenc­ing for Jan­uary 2018.

In­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity ex­pert and Waikato Univer­sity law pro­fes­sor Al Gille­spie said the judge should ‘‘throw the book’’ at the com­pany given the grav­ity of the in­ter­na­tional sit­u­a­tion.

‘‘I can­not think of a more se­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion on the planet now.’’

Gille­spie said the es­ca­lat­ing ten­sion be­tween North Korea and Pres­i­dent Trump was at an ‘‘ab­so­lute knife edge’’.

‘‘In the wider con­text what [Pa­cific Aero­space] have done isn’t go­ing to make North Korea a big­ger nu­clear power. But what is sig­nif­i­cant is the whole in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity needs to be shoul­der to shoul­der right now in ap­ply­ing the tough­est pos­si­ble sanc­tions to North Korea.’’

Cus­toms laid the charges after one of Pa­cific Aero­space’s P-750 XSTOL planes was spot­ted at the Won­san Air Fes­ti­val in North Korea in Septem­ber 2016.

The di­rect or in­di­rect sup­ply of air­craft, re­lated parts and aero­space train­ing to North Korea is a vi­o­la­tion of UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 1718.

The 2006 res­o­lu­tion was agreed on by UN mem­ber states in re­sponse to North Korea test­ing a nu­clear weapon.

Un­der New Zealand law, a com­pany which breaches a UN- man­dated ban can be fined up to $100,000.

A com­pany can be fined up to $5000 for mak­ing an er­ro­neous dec­la­ra­tion un­der the Cus­toms and Ex­cise Act.

Pre­vi­ously, the Pa­cific Aero­space chief ex­ec­u­tive ex­pressed sur­prise when the P-750 XSTOL plane was sighted at the Won­san Air Fes­ti­val.

Aram Pam, a Sin­ga­pore­based pho­tog­ra­pher who at­tended the air­show and pho­tographed the plane, told

Stuff it flew as part of a demon­stra­tion by the North Korean na­tional air­line, Air Ko­ryo.

A UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil re­port from Fe­bru­ary

2017 – writ­ten by a panel of ex­perts tasked with in­ves­ti­gat­ing sanc­tion breaches – says Pa­cific Aero­space sold and de­liv­ered the P-750 XSTOL air­craft to a Chi­nese com­pany in Septem­ber 2015.

The re­port in­cludes a chain of emails that sug­gest the com­pany knew one of its planes was in North Korea, and planned to pro­vide parts and en­gi­neer­ing train­ing.

The emails, from Jan­uary 2016, show Pa­cific Aero­space and its Chi­nese part­ner were plan­ning to pro­vide a re­place­ment flap mo­tor, tools and train­ing to fix a prob­lem with the air­craft.

‘‘We are plan­ning for [name redacted] to de­liver train­ing on how to re­place the flap mo­tor and he will pro­vide the nec­es­sary tools for one of the BGAC re­assem­bly team to be able to re­place the flap mo­tor in North Korea,’’ an email from Pa­cific Aero­space to a Chi­nese coun­ter­part said.

Trump tweeted on Sun­day that only ‘‘one thing would work’’ to stop

Kim Jong Un’s regime from fur­ther de­vel­op­ing a nu­clear arse­nal aimed at hit­ting the United States’ main­land.

While he didn’t pro­vide fur­ther ex­pla­na­tion, it left ob­servers spec­u­lat­ing that it might be a mil­i­tary choice and mil­i­tary ex­er­cises have stepped up in re­cent weeks, in­clud­ing a flight of US B1 strate­gic bombers near North Korea this week.

He’s also played down hopes for di­rect talks be­tween the US and North Korea as touted by his own Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, tweet­ing that Tiller­son was ‘‘wast­ing his time’’.

‘‘I can­not think of a more se­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion on the planet now.’’ Al Gille­spie In­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity ex­pert and Waikato Univer­sity law pro­fes­sor

A New Zealand-made Pa­cific Aero­space P-750 XSTOL was spot­ted at North Korea’s first air­show in Oc­to­ber 2016. Pa­cific Aero­space chief ex­ec­u­tive Damian Camp. US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, a ‘‘rocket man’’.

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