NK Leader Finds Life’s Luxuries in Gibraltar

Korea Times

Kim Jong-il, the idiosyncratic leader of North Korea, may be dispensing Hennessy cognac and Cartier watches to his cronies for a little while longer, thanks to a 300-year-old territorial dispute between the United Kingdom and Spain, the Financial Times reported Thursday.

The times said the precise status of Gibraltar, a hunk of British-owned rock at the mouth of the Mediterranean, has caused a new row between London and Madrid that is delaying a European Union (EU) ban on luxury goods sales to Pyongyang.

The ban was agreed by the United Nations last October as one of a series of sanctions against North Korea, following its Oct. 8 underground nucear weapons test.

The aim was to deprive Kim and his supporters of some of the finer things in life, including thoroughbred horses, luxury vehicles, watches, pearls and musical instruments, the daily said.

The sanctions were adopted by EU foreign ministers in November, but they are still not in force across the bloc, according to the world-renowned finacial newsppwer.

“If Kim is wondering why, he need look no further than the War of the Spanish Succession and the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht that ended it _ handing Gibraltar to Britain,’’ the times said.

Problems arose when Madrid spotted that the EU regulation needed to implement the sanctions contained a reference to the “competent authorities’’ responsible for enforcing them: listed in the small print was Gibraltar.

Spain’s foreign ministry wants the reference to Gibraltar deleted before the EU regulation can come into force.

“We do not recognize Gibraltar’s authority in international policy,’’ the daily quoted the ministry as saying, “The UK is the only competent authority in this respect.”

The times quoted British diplomats as saying that there would be a legal hole in the sanctions if Gibraltar was not included.

It said both sides are trying to resolve the dispute and insist it is a hiccup in improving relations over the colony.

The newspaper said that in September the two countries, along with Gibraltar, signed an agreement on airport access, telecoms and border controls, hailed as the beginning of a new era of cooperation.


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