Arab state to halt N. Korea visas, new busi­nesses

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NEWS - JON GAM­BRELL

DUBAI, United Arab Emi­rates — The United Arab Emi­rates said Thurs­day that it would stop is­su­ing new visas to North Korean work­ers, be­com­ing the lat­est Per­sian Gulf coun­try to limit Py­ongyang’s abil­ity to evade sanc­tions and raise money abroad as ten­sions rise with the U.S.

A state­ment by the For­eign Min­istry did not ad­dress the hun­dreds of North Korean la­bor­ers al­ready work­ing in the United Arab Emi­rates. A call to the fed­er­a­tion’s em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton was not im­me­di­ately re­turned.

The state­ment said the United Arab Emi­rates would pull its non­res­i­dent am­bas­sador to North Korea as well as stop North Kore­ans from open­ing new busi­nesses in the coun­try, a fed­er­a­tion of seven sheik­doms on the Ara­bian Penin­sula that is a staunch U.S. ally.

The United Arab Emi­rates “looks for­ward to a uni­fied global front against North Korea’s nu­clear weapons and mis­sile pro­gram,” the state­ment read.

It’s not clear what prompted the de­ci­sion, though Amer­i­can of­fi­cials have been pres­sur­ing their al­lies in the Gulf Arab states to cut back on eco­nomic ties to North Korea. The U.S. Em­bassy in Abu Dhabi did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Last month, Kuwait an­nounced it would ex­pel North Korea’s am­bas­sador to the oil­rich coun­try and four other diplo­mats, as well as limit visas. North Korea’s Em­bassy in Kuwait City serves as its only diplo­matic out­post in the Per­sian Gulf. Qatar has said “less than 1,000” North Kore­ans are in the coun­try and their visas will not be re­newed. North Korean la­bor­ers also are in Oman.

The U.S. and Asian na­tions have in­creased pres­sure on their al­lies to cut ties as Py­ongyang has tested a nu­clear weapon and launched bal­lis­tic mis­siles over Ja­pan.

While a small mar­ket com­pared with China and Rus­sia, the amount of money North Korean la­bor­ers in the Per­sian Gulf kick back to the gov­ern­ment helps Py­ongyang evade in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions, au­thor­i­ties say. A 2015 U.N. re­port sug­gested that the more than 50,000 North Kore­ans work­ing over­seas earned Py­ongyang be­tween $1.2 bil­lion and $2.3 bil­lion a year. Other es­ti­mates put earn­ings in the hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars.

Thou­sands of North Kore­ans work across the Per­sian Gulf. Kuwait said in Au­gust that 6,064 North Korean la­bor­ers worked there. The United Arab Emi­rates has as many as 1,500 North Korean work­ers, said two of­fi­cials with knowl­edge of Py­ongyang’s tac­tics, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity to dis­cuss con­fi­den­tial in­tel­li­gence re­ports.

North Kore­ans work­ing in the Per­sian Gulf earn around $1,000 a month, with about half be­ing kept by the North Korean gov­ern­ment and an­other $300 go­ing to con­struc­tion com­pany man­agers, the of­fi­cials said. That leaves work­ers with $200 for work­ing straight through the month, they said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.