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O País / Government spokesperson, Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism Ana Comoana speaking to the press on Tuesday, September 12 2017
The Mozambican government has promised to cooperate with the United Nations into investigations of an allegation that a Mozambican company breached UN sanctions against North Korea by buying weaponry from the despotic regime of Kim Jong-un.
According to press reports on Monday, a UN commission of experts monitoring the sanctions says that it is looking into the supply of portable air defence systems, surface-to-air missiles and radar to Mozambique involving the North Korean Haegeumgang Trading Corporation.
Haegumgang allegedly sold this military equipment to Monte Binga, a company owned by the Mozambican Defence Ministry. Monte Binga also owns 50 per cent of Proindicus, one of the security related companies involved in the scandal of Mozambique’s “hidden debts” – two billion dollars worth of loans, illicitly guaranteed by the government, from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia.
Haegeumgang has been reported by two UN member states as operating in Mozambique and in neighbouring Tanzania. The report from the UN commission said that one member state specified that Haegeumgang had provided the same surface-to-air missile systems to both Mozambique and the United Republic of Tanzania. Such purchases would violate the sanctions against North Korea decreed by the UN Security Council.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, at the end of the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), the 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.
She stressed that Mozambique is a signatory of the international treaties on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, on the banning of nuclear tests, and the establishment of regional zones fee of nuclear weapons.
Furthermore, the Mozambican constitution “favours the universal disarmament of all states”, she added. Comoana believed that the constitutional provision and the treaties Mozambique had signed made clear the principles on the matter defended by the Mozambican government.
Mozambique once had friendly relations with North Korea, which provided some military support for the national liberation struggle against Portuguese colonial rule. After independence North Korea provided assistance in various areas, including agriculture, health, culture and defence, and some Mozambican officers received military training in Korea. A relic of those times is the fact that a street in central Maputo is named after the founder of the North Korean regime, Kim il-Sung.
But there is no longer a North Korean embassy in Maputo, and recently relations have cooled. Thus when Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi visited Japan in March, he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sharply condemned North Korea for its nuclear programme.
A joint statement issued in Tokyo after talks between the two leaders said they “condemned in the strongest terms North Korea’s nuclear tests and repeated missile launches and underlined the need to maintain peace, security and stability in the region by fully implementing the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions.”
This statement came just ten days after the Pyongyang regime had launched four missiles into the Sea of Japan, which fell about 200 kilometres from the Japanese coast.
Nyusi and Abe “urged North Korea to refrain from any provocation and to fully comply with UN Security Council resolutions and other international commitments”.