The trade goes way beyond fish.

Business World - - OPINION -

NORTH KOREA may be fo­cused on a pub­lic re­la­tions drive in Pyeongchang right now, but its ef­forts to hood­wink the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity ex­tend way beyond the Korean penin­sula. When it comes to cir­cum­vent­ing eco­nomic sanc­tions, they ex­tend into the most un­ex­pected places, like Ma­puto, the leafy port city that is Mozam­bique’s cap­i­tal.

Fish­ing is big busi­ness in this south­ern African coun­try. North Korea has dis­cov­ered that a slice of that busi­ness can be ob­tained with rel­a­tive ease, us­ing fish­ing boats that are sim­ple to move and con­ceal. The trawlers rep­re­sent just one area of il­licit trade be­tween the two coun­tries. A CNN in­ves­ti­ga­tion has un­cov­ered a web of “front” com­pa­nies, as well as mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion and elite forces train­ing deals — all, say UN in­ves­ti­ga­tors, in vi­o­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions. The con­tracts are worth mil­lions of dol­lars; the cash is qui­etly fun­nelled through re­gion­ally based North Korean diplo­mats.

Ac­cord­ing to a not-yet pub­lished UN re­port, North Korea earned $200 mil­lion be­tween Jan­uary and Septem­ber last year by ex­port­ing banned com­modi­ties. The same re­port in­di­cates that the pariah state is flout­ing res­o­lu­tions by us­ing global oil sup­ply chains, com­plicit for­eign na­tion­als, off­shore com­pany reg­istries, and the in­ter­na­tional bank­ing sys­tem.

In short, the ef­forts of the UN and US to put the squeeze on the coun­try do not ap­pear to be work­ing. The trade goes way beyond fish. Mil­i­tary equip­ment is also driv­ing cash into North Korean cof­fers. “Air mis­siles, manned por­ta­ble sur­face- to- air mis­siles, mil­i­tary radar, air de­fence sys­tems, the re­fur­bish­ment of tanks — it’s a long list,” says Hugh

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