Fish, missiles, tanks, and trawlers: Mozambique’s strange trade with North Korea
Griffiths, chief investigator of the UN Panel of Experts monitoring the trade. The currency and revenues generated from all this activity can be used to fund North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, he added.
UN and US investigators are taking a much closer look at African countries’ relationships to North Korea, investigating at least eleven different nations. Many African liberation movements had ties and support from the North Korean regime before independence and through the Cold War, though the extent of the connections has been questioned.
Maputo has one obvious reminder of Mozambique’s relationship with Pyongyang: a bronze statue of Samora Machel, the country’s founding president, erected in 2011 and built by North Korea. It is another example of Pyongyang’s strange statue- making business, which was targeted by fresh UN sanctions in 2016. Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries, faces the difficult choice between lucrative North Korean contracts and keeping the US and UN happy. The country received more than half a billion dollars from US agencies in 2016 alone.
For its part, Mozambique denies any wrongdoing: “At this moment, we are implementing all the sanctions that were declared by the United Nations against North Korea,” Alvaro O’da Silva, a director at Mozambique’s foreign ministry, told us. But he later backtracked, saying he didn’t have “detailed information” about sanctions.
Amid this swirl of evidence, the North Korean fishermen remain in their boats. Occasionally wandering into Maputo for a little shopping, they quietly go about their business, unfazed by the geopolitical implications of their stay.