Four ministers dismissed - Hanlon
Mozambican Defence Minister Atanasio M’tumuke on Wednesday denied that Mozambique has purchased military equipment from North Korea, and invited United Nations specialists to visit the country and check for themselves.
Cited by the independent television station STV, M’tumuke said “I don’t understand what they’re saying about weaponry. They can come here and verify. We are ready to receive any commission that may come. We are tranquil. We don’t have any problems”.
The allegation that Mozambique purchased military equipment from North Korea, in violation of United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang, was mentioned in two reports from the panel of experts set up by the UN Security Council to monitor the implementation of sanctions, on 27 February and 5 September.
The February report, which went unnoticed din Maputo, mentioned a six million US dollar contract between the North Korean Haegeumgang Trading Corporation and Monte Binga, a company owned by the Mozambican Defence Ministry.
Under this contract, according to the panel, citing as its source an unnamed UN Member State, Haegeumgang was to upgrade and refurbish Soviet era equipment: P-18 early warning radar, AT-3 anti-tank missiles, T-55 tanks, and truck-mounted surface-to-air Pechora missile systems. It was also to supply ‘man-portable air defence system components and training equipment’, 250 kg ‘glide induced bombs’, radar systems, communications and electronics detection equipment, and a ‘chemical warfare monitoring command car’ and related equipment. The contract also mentioned rehabilitating a gunpowder processing factory.
The contract, the panel said, was signed in 2013 by Choe Kwang Su, described as the representative of Haegeumgang in Mozambique. He is also third secretary at the North Korean embassy in Pretoria. “In addition to the contract itself”, the report said, “a Member State showed the Panel photographs of the activities, including technicians of the Korean People’s Army standing in front of refurbished tanks”. The report also presents the alleged contract, in Korean, with parts translated into English.
The first government reaction to the UN reports came on 12 September, when the official government spokesperson, Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism, Ana Comoana, pledged full cooperation with the UN Commission. The government would provide “due clarification at the opportune moment”.
This was neither a denial nor a confirmation of the accusation, but Comoana refused to give any further details.
M’tumuke was backed up by Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi who also denied any purchase of military equipment from Pyongyang. He admitted, however, that in the past Mozambique had received military support from North Korea – not only during the national liberation struggle against Portuguese colonial rule, but also after independence when North Korea “remained on our side, even at difficult moments”.
Without going into any specifics, Baloi told STV that, when Mozambique “had no conditions to solve certain military situations, North Korea was one of the countries that was on our side”.
But when the United Nations Security Council declared sanctions against the Pyongyang regime, Mozambique had to comply. “As members of the United Nations, we have to comply with decisions of the Security Council”.
He believed there might have been “one or other lack of attention”, but “we are in the process of rectifying everything that these sanctions determine”.Source: AIM
Four ministers dismissed - Hanlon