North Korea's 'loyal agent' arrested in Australia for brokering missile parts

By Jennie Oh  |  Updated Dec. 17, 2017 at 6:33 AM
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SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Australian authorities arrested a 59-year old man who has allegedly served as an economic agent for North Korea, arranging sales of missile components and coal to generate income for the regime.

The Australian Federal Police said Sunday that Choi Han Chan, a Sydney local of South Korean descent, is believed to have attempted to raise tens of millins of dollars for Pyongyang through the international black market.

Police will accuse him of brokering sales of North Korean missile components as well as technological expertise including a software used for guiding ballistic missiles.

He also allegedly attempted to transfer North Korean coal to third parties in Indonesia and Vietnam, violating international sanctions on the regime.

The UN Security Council's Resolution 2371, passed unanimously in August this year, bans the reclusive state from exporting coal.

Police believe Choi committed the alleged offenses between August 5 and December 16 this year, but suspicions date back to 2008, according to SBS.

AFP assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan told the media in Sydney, that the man "was acting as a loyal agent for North Korea who believed he was acting to serve some higher patriotic purpose."

He said investigative findings suggest Choi had been in contact with high-ranking North Korean officials and he "would sell whatever he could to make money for the North Korean government."

Choi is expected to appear in court this week, facing a total of six charges related to an act on preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction as well as laws enforcing United Nations and Australian sanctions on North Korea's nuclear and missile program.

He could receive up to ten years of imprisonment for breaking international sanctions on trade with the North, as well as a maximum of eight years in jail under the Weapons of Mass Destruction Act in Australia.

Choi is the first person to be charged under the Australian Act enforced in 1995, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Topics: North Korea
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