Australia’s ANL cited in DPRK weapons smuggling

According to The Australian:

The use of an Australian-owned cargo ship to smuggle weapons from North Korea to Iran has been highlighted in a report to the UN.

It was one of several breaches of UN sanctions against Kim Jong-il’s regime detailed in a report to the Security Council.

The report, which was submitted to the council recently after months of obstruction from China, found the North was making $US100 million a year through illegal arms sales to Syria, Iran and Burma.

Pyongyang used shadowy webs of front companies, false manifests and complex routes to try to get around sanctions aimed at stopping its arms proliferation, the investigation found.

The report flags the 2009 interception of the ANL Australia in Sharjah as one of at least four occasions that North Korea was caught out exporting arms or defence equipment.

The report said weapons were seized from the ANL Australia in the United Arab Emirates on July 22, 2009.

The cargo is thought to have included up to 10 containers of arms, including rocket-propelled grenades and trigger mechanisms and propellant, although this is not detailed in the report.

The cargo was packed and sealed in North Korea and shipped to China, where it was loaded aboard the ANL Australia en route to Iran.

The Bahamas-flagged vessel was owned by ANL Container Line at the time.

ANL, once Australia’s national shipping line, was taken over by French company CMA CGM.

Despite the breach of sanctions, an Australian government investigation found ANL was not responsible because the ship was chartered by a foreign company at the time.

“The Australian government’s inquiries into this matter indicated that at all relevant times the vessel was not under the operational control of its owner, but was rather being chartered by a non-Australian company,” a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said.

“No conduct relevant to the shipment can be attributed to an Australian person or body corporate,” he said.

ANL declined to comment.

The report found that while no ballistic missile or nuclear-related materials emanating from North Korea had been intercepted since sanctions were applied, evidence suggested “continuing DPRK (North Korea) involvement in nuclear and ballistic missile-related activities in certain countries, including Iran, Syria and Myanmar (Burma)”.

“To supplement its foreign earnings, the DPRK has long been involved in illicit and questionable international transactions (including) the surreptitious transfer of nuclear and ballistic missile-related equipment, know-how and technology,” it says.

The panel received government reports suggesting North Korea had helped build Syria’s Dair Alzour nuclear facility (destroyed in 2007 by an Israeli attack) along with details of Japan’s arrest in June 2009 of three individuals trying to illegally export a magnetometer, a device with potential missile-related uses, to Burma.

The report cited in the story is the “Panel of Experts” report to the UNSC.  You can read (and search) it here (PDF).

Read the full story here:
UN cites ANL in N Korea arms smuggling
The Australian
Rick Wallace
1/10/2011

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