Friday, February 26, 2010

More North Korean Arms Seized Hidden In Freight Containers

Report Details Circumstances of Find
Shipping News Feature

SOUTH AFRICA / NORTH KOREA / CONGO – Details are emerging on the seizure by South African authorities last November of two containers carrying embargoed North Korea weapons’ parts which were listed as “spare parts for bulldozer”.

The two containers, currently being held at a secure facility in Durban, were carrying a quantity of parts for T-55 tanks including gun sights, radios and tracks and have an estimated value of around half a million pounds.

According to the bill of lading the final port of destination was Pointe Noire in the Republic of Congo, which has recently seen a period of violence in the nation’s capital, Brazzaville.

In to a report by the South Africans and given to the AFP news agency the containers originally loaded at the Chinese port of Dalian and originated from the DGE Corporation, which has been traced to North Korea.

These were subsequently transhipped in Malaysia to the Westhever, which was chartered by Delmas Shipping. Whilst on route to Walvis Bay in Namibia to refuel the captain was told to put into Durban for inspection of the two containers due to the suspicion that the cargo might contain contraband.

This seizure occurred only two weeks before 35 tonnes of North Korean weapons were found onboard an Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane making a refuelling stop in Bangkok. This cargo was apparently headed for Iran and speculation is that they would have ended up in the hands of Hezbollah or Hamas.

North Korea is forbidden from exporting any weapons after the U.N. Security Council placed strict sanction on the country in June in punishment for their illegal nuclear weapon program.

Speaking to a Senate committee yesterday U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hailed the South African’s actions, stating that it provided another example of the effectiveness of U.N. sanctions.