Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

Austria claims it is owed $200m by DPRK

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

According to the Korea Times:

North Korea currently is $200 million (2.5 billion won) in debt to Austria, Voice of America (VOA) reported Wednesday.

Austria’s annual financial report indicates unpaid debt from foreign countries had reached approximately $1.26 billion (1.2 trillion won). Among them, North Korea has not paid anything back for 20 years, said Die Presse, an Austrian daily.

After a debt settlement between two countries in 1987, in which Austria received $7.6 million from the North, all payments stopped in 1992, the VOA said.

Die Presse added it is uncertain if the rest will be redeemed after inactive efforts for 20 years. It also explained the North took out loans from 30 western European countries in the late 1960s and inefficient management resulted in the indebted situation.

A source familiar with the issue speculated North Korea owes $18 billion (18.4 trillion won) in external debt.

Russia waived 90 percent of a $10.1 billion debt owed by the North, while the rest could be repaid over 20 years and be reinvested in North Korea.

Read the full story here:
NK owes Austria $200 million
Korea Times


Choson Exchange Update

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

From the Choson Exchange web page:

We are looking to build our knowledge pool in the areas of contract negotiations, microfinance and bond markets as there have been requests for knowledge assistance in these areas from Pyongyang. We are told that North Korean firms need to negotiate more effectively with their Chinese counterparts, and require legal training to do so. The fundamentals of micro-finance and bond markets are also of interest to some financial organizations.  We expect initial programs for these areas to take place in April to May this year.

The executive director of Choson Exchange, Geoffrey See, also wrote the following article in the East Asia Forum:

Choson Exchange recently prepared a program for North Korean students to learn business, finance and economics overseas through university courses and internships.

They consulted a range of North Koreans on how it should structure such a program and ‘the Australia National University’ often came back as the model to follow. Up until 2006, ANU hosted North Korean trainees studying economics under programs supported by international and Australian aid agencies. The Australian exchange program was clearly well-regarded by outward-looking North Koreans.

But what would Australia gain from such programs?

A resolution to the constant series of crises on the Korean peninsula is obviously in Australia’s interest. Conflict on the Korean peninsula can destabilize the region and in a worst-case scenario draw China and the United States into a military conflict involving Australian troops. This would cause incalculable harm to the Asia-Pacific economy because of its impact on all the major Northeast Asian economies, not to mention the human cost of conflict. Australia also has long and particular historical interests in commerce with North Korea.

There are some things that Australia can facilitate for North Korea which is in their mutual interest, but which neither the United States nor South Korea can provide anytime soon. The opportunity for North Korean students to study economics, business or law in Australia in long-term university programs is one such crucial shared interest. Yet such programs are currently impossible because of autonomous sanctions in place since 2006 that deny visas to visiting North Koreans. This policy is counter-productive. It trades off the ability to shape longer-term outcomes on the Korean peninsula for short-term public displays of opprobrium. The only countries whose sanctions can hurt North Korea are the countries that actually trade with it. This policy is also unusually harsh of Australia. The United States takes a more nuanced stance by allowing visits by North Koreans for some purposes while publicly preventing political delegations to express its political support for US allies, chiefly South Korea. Similarly, Australia can publicly express its disapproval of current North Korean activities alongside efforts to develop exchanges that shape a future that goes beyond the present stalemate.

These educational exchanges provide Australia with an effective way to shape longer-term dynamics on the Korean peninsula. One way the Korean crisis will end peacefully is when North Korean elites calculate that benefits of economic integration with the rest of the world are great enough to make the costs of confrontation unsustainable. Overseas education can shift this cost-benefit calculus because it equips a new generation of North Korean leaders with the knowledge and the networks to benefit from international trade and integration.

Choson Exchange recently placed a North Korean student in an internship with an international consulting firm. Without such networks, the opportunity would not have materialized. The student also needed coaching on how to explain why his prospective-employer might find value in taking him on. He assumed that a good score on an international English test was the qualification he needed even though most selective employers see fluency as a minimum threshold, rather than a core selling point. This experience helped us see things from the North Korean perspective: there are hardly any commercial benefits to speak of when one lacks knowledge and networks to realize those benefits.

Now is the time to help build this knowledge and network base. North Korea has been active over the past year setting up institutions to promote economic development. This includes the State General Bureau of Economic Development, the Daepung Group, and the State Development Bank. Choson Exchange has led finance workshops with the State Development Bank, and Bank managers agree that training is needed and appreciated. By helping to educate the next generation of North Korean businessmen, economists, financiers or lawyers who will eventually fill these institutions, Australia can play a role in shaping these emerging institutions in North Korea, institutions that could have important ramifications for how North Korea interacts with the rest of the world in the future.

Australia has the opportunity to redefine how such exchanges are conducted. To maximize impact in developing institutions in Pyongyang, we need to think in terms of a “talent pipeline.” We need interlinked programs targeted at different age-groups: training workshops targeting senior or middle management at these institutions, overseas scholarships targeted at university students or recent graduates, and a way to bring both groups together to help maximize opportunities for scholarship recipients to move into the emerging institutions.

Australia has the base from which to take initiatives with North Korea. The North Korean institutions that are looking outwards explicitly seek to build on what has been done with Australia, and specifically through the Australian National University program for training in economics. A comprehensive settlement of the Korean problem is much more likely if we begin again to put this infrastructure in place and help with institutional development in North Korea.


Australia’s ANL cited in DPRK weapons smuggling

Monday, January 10th, 2011

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


DPRK emigration data

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Josh points out this table from the UNHCR (originally published by RFA):


Click image for larger version.


UAE Seizes North Korean Weapons Shipment to Iran

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

UPDATE: According to Yonhap, Chinese and Australian ships were shipping the arms:

North Korean cargo carrying arms exports to Iran left a western port five days after Pyongyang’s nuclear test in May and was transferred aboard Chinese and Australian freighters before being seized by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in July, according to an Italian company that handled the delivery.

Mario Carniglia, head of the international freight-forwarding firm Otim, said the containers, reportedly loaded with rocket launchers, detonators, and munitions, were shipped via the Chinese cities of Dalian and Shanghai and were transferred to an Australian vessel just after the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1874 which bans the North from engaging in arms trade.

“(The containers) left the Nampo Port on May 30,” he said in a recent interview with Yonhap News Agency in Rome on Wednesday. A North Korean ship carrying the 10 containers arrived in Dalian two days later and a Chinese cargo ship moved them to Shanghai on June 13, he said.

“The containers were placed on (the Australian freighter) ANL-Australia in Shanghai,” he said, flipping through related documents.

The cargo was on its scheduled course until the UAE intercepted the ANL-Australia on July 22. The U.S. Navy had been focusing on trailing another North Korean vessel, the Kangnam 1, which appeared to be headed to Myanmar also carrying weapons exports.

The seizure was the first made under Resolution 1874 that calls upon all states to inspect cargo to and from North Korea if they have “information that provides reasonable grounds to believe the cargo contains” illicit weapons.

The Australian government said earlier, based on its own probe, that there were rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons in the seized containers, though Carniglia said his firm did not know the contents of the cargo.

He said North Korea provided documents identifying the content as “Oil Pumping Equipment.”

“We couldn’t see the contents as the containers were sealed when shipped from Nampo,” he said in the interview conducted in Italian. He refused to identify the exporter in North Korea, citing business ethics.

“All we were responsible for was handling the shipping from China to Iran,” Carniglia said.

He added that North Korea has not filed a complaint or asked for the return of the cargo, held at the UAE now for more than 50 days.

The UAE is reportedly in consultation with the U.N. sanctions committee on how to handle the seized shipment.

In a related move, the U.N. committee demanded an explanation from North Korea last month for the apparent arms export attempt.

The head of the North’s mission to the U.N., Sin Son-ho, sent a reply letter reiterating his country’s position that it is not bound by any U.N. resolution.

Sin also said that North Korea’s experimental uranium enrichment program is in a “completion phase,” claiming the country has made advancements in mastering an alternative route to producing nuclear weapons apart from its plutonium-based program.

ORIGINAL POST: According to Bloomberg:

The United Arab Emirates has seized a ship carrying North Korean-manufactured munitions, detonators, explosives and rocket-propelled grenades bound for Iran in violation of United Nations sanctions, diplomats said.

The UAE two weeks ago notified the UN Security Council of the seizure, according to the diplomats, who spoke on condition they aren’t named because the communication hasn’t been made public. They said the ship, owned by an Australian subsidiary of a French company and sailing under a Bahamian flag, was carrying 10 containers of arms disguised as oil equipment.

The council committee that monitors enforcement of UN sanctions against North Korea wrote letters to Iran and the government in Pyongyang asking for explanations of the violation, and one to the UAE expressing appreciation for the cooperation, the envoys said. No response has been received and the UAE has unloaded the cargo, they said.

he Security Council voted on June 12 to adopt a resolution that punishes North Korea for its recent nuclear-bomb test and missile launches through cargo inspections and enforcement of restrictions on financial transactions. The measure calls for the interdiction at seaports, airports or in international waters of any cargo suspected of containing arms or nuclear or missile-related materials going to or from North Korea.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

According to the Security Council diplomat, the weapons were carried on an Australian vessel, the ANL-Australia, which was flying under a Bahamian flag. According to an Aug. 14 letter sent to the U.N. sanctions committee, the exporting company was an Italian shipper, Otim, which exported the items from its Shanghai office.

“The cargo manifest said the shipment contained oil-boring machines, but then you opened it up and there were these items,” the diplomat said. ANL and Otim officials couldn’t immediately be reached to comment.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the Australian government is aware of the incident and is investigating to determine whether any Australian laws may have been broken.

The seizure could also raise fresh questions about North Korea’s intentions. After taking an aggressive stance against the West earlier this year, Pyongyang appears to have softened its rhetoric, releasing two captive American journalists and sending a delegation to meet with South Korea’s president.

Read more here:
UAE Seizes North Korean Weapons Shipment to Iran
Bill Varner

Cargo of North Korea Matériel Is Seized en Route to Iran
Wall Street Journal
Peter Spiegel and Chip Cummins


Australia grants aid to DPRK

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

According to the AAP via The Age (Australia):

Australia has granted $3.75 million in humanitarian aid to North Korea.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith said the funds comprised $2 million for the World Food Program for emergency food for North Korea, $1 million for Unicef for emergency water and water sanitation supplies and $750,000 for the Red Cross.

Read the full story here:
Australia grants $3.75m aid to N Korea
The Age


Petrov on DPRK-Australian relations

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

The Nautilus Institute has published an aritcle by Leonid Petrov on 60 years of Australian/DPRK relations.

Topics covered: on again/off agian diplomatic history, Australian foreign policy, bilateral relations, DPRK engagement with Australia, Pong Su (drug smuggling), denuclearization, economic sanctions, DPRK canberra embassy closing.

You may read the article on line here.

You may download a PDF of the article here: petrov-australia-dprk.pdf


North to close embassy in Australia next month

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Unlike most other nations’ embassies, North Korean offices must not only self-finance their operations but they must also send money back home.  It looks like they were finding it hard to make a living in Canberra.  Though an enjoyable town, Canberra is so far from most of the economic action in Australia that they were probably unable to close any deals.  In the future, they should consider opening a consulate in Sydney–if they can afford the rent.

Joong Ang Daily

North Korea can’t afford the bills anymore, so it will close its embassy here, Australia’s foreign ministry said yesterday.

North Korean diplomats informed Australian officials in November that the four-person embassy, located in a diplomatic quarter of Australia’s capital Canberra, would shut in February.

“The embassy advised that they plan to continue with non-resident diplomatic accreditation from Jakarta,” a foreign ministry spokesman told Reuters. The mission said in a letter it was closing due to “financial reasons.”

“The DPRK said it would consider reopening if its financial situation improves,” the spokesman said, referring to the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Australia is one of few Western countries to have diplomatic ties with the reclusive state. Pyongyang opened its embassy in May 2002.

In September 2006, Australia announced sanctions against 12 companies and one person connected with financing Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, including a visa ban on North Korean nationals and on North Korean shipping.


25 pct of Kaesong-made goods exported this year, ministry says

Sunday, June 10th, 2007


Products made in an inter-Korean industrial park in the first four months of the year were valued at US$48.1 million, about 24 percent of which, or $11.3 million worth of products, were exported, South Korea’s unification ministry said Sunday.

Last year’s comparable figure during the cited period was 18.4 percent, or $2.3 million, according to the ministry.

The industrial complex, located in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, is one of two flagship projects the South operates with the North in the spirit of reconciliation that developed following the historic inter-Korean summit in 2000.

Over 13,000 North Korean workers are currently employed by 22 South Korean companies there. They produce garments, utensils and other labor-intensive goods.

The biggest importer of Kaesong-made goods was the European Union (EU), followed by China, Russia and Australia.

The ministry did not give figures on how many goods made in the industrial park the countries imported.


Australia to provide $4m aid to N Korea

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Austrailian Associated Press

Australia will provide almost $4 million in humanitarian aid to a hungry and malnourished North Korea.

Millions of the 23 million people in the communist country are living in poverty.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australia’s $4 million commitment will focus on improving the health, hygiene and nutrition of North Koreans.

“Thirty-seven per cent of North Koreans suffer from chronic malnutrition, and two-thirds of North Korean children do not receive enough food because of a one million tonne food shortfall,” Mr Downer said in a statement.

“Many North Koreans also lack access to clean water and sanitation.”

Mr Downer said Australia’s assistance will be provided through a number of United Nations agencies and the International Red Cross.

About $1.5 million will go towards UNICEF’s water and sanitation program.

A further $1.5 million will provide food for 1.9 million people through the World Food Program.

The rest of the money will be spent on emergency health and essential medicines, disaster management, water supply and sanitation.