North Korean activities
The new “global strike” forces have been in development for at least five years, and weapons and technologies are “starting to emerge,” the vice chairman said.
“Historically we have thought in terms of conventional bombers,” Gen. Cartwright said.
“The reality today is conventional bombers for global strike probably [are] not credible. They’re too slow. They’re too in- global strike is that it is “not enough to sustain a fight,” which is why foreign-based and deployed forces are still needed, Gen. Cartwright said. New details of North Korean trafficking in counterfeit U.S. currency were outlined in a foreign government report on the illicit activities that identified a top North Korean general as the central figure in the counterfeiting as well as drug trafficking.
The foreign government report, which was confirmed by U.S. intelligence officials, stated that Gen. O Kuk-ryol runs a North Korean government-sponsored program to produce and distribute high-quality counterfeit $100 bills and to engage in illicit narcotics trafficking with Asian organized crime gangs.
A North Korean diplomat at the country’s U.N. mission in New York has denied charges that North Korea’s government is involved in counterfeiting and other illegal activities.
The report identified Gen. O’s son, O Se-won as “deeply involved with the importation of more than 75 kilograms of heroin found aboard a North Korean ship Pung Su seized by Australian authorities in April 2003. A Korean Workers Party official was among the 30 crew members charged with drug smuggling.
According to the report, profits from the sale of fake U.S. currency and narcotics have been used by the communist Worker’s Party of Korea Office of the Clerk to buy luxury yachts for North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and his family and “tens of millions of dollars” worth of MercedesBenz cars and helicopters for the ruling Kim family.
The report also provided an example of how North Korea transfers supernotes through Africa. It identified Lee Il-nam, a diplomat posted to the North Korean Embassy in Ethiopia, as a courier for tens of thousands of supernotes that were sent from Pyongyang to Beijing and to Ethiopia between May 2003 and September 2004.
According to the report, the diplomat worked with another North Korean diplomat in Addis Ababa, Joo Ryong-woon. Both were detained in January 2004 by authorities in the Persian Gulf state of Dubai on suspicion of circulating counterfeit supernotes, the report said.
The report also stated that North Korean arms trafficking includes covert sales of missiles, tanks, torpedo boats and submarines to Iran and Ethiopia.
Pyongyang sought to hide the arms sales by using accounts in other countries, the report said. The North Koreans also sought to hide the arms sales from international monitors by disguising the transactions through front companies. One bank mentioned in the report as a conduit for the arms sales was a Chinese state bank, the report said.
Bill Gertz covers national security affairs. He can be reached at 202/636-3274, or at insidether email@example.com.
A female North Korean soldier looks out from behind a barbed wire fence around a camp on the North Korean river banks across from Hekou, northeastern China’s Liaoning province, on June 3.