3 March 2016

Africa: North Korea Builds Munitions Factory in Namibia

Namibia's dealings with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) have been found to be in contravention of United Nations sanctions imposed on that country.

The contravention includes the building of an armament factory.

International news media organisation Vice News reported that a UN Security Council report stated that officials in Namibia admitted to investigators that North Koreans were involved in several ventures in Namibia.

These ventures include the construction of a munitions factory in the capital, Windhoek.

The Namibian has, however, established that an armament factory started operations in the Oamites military base near Rehoboth late last year.

Defence minister Penda ya Ndakolo yesterday denied the existence of a project to build arms with North Korea. "As far as I know, we don't have such a project in Namibia," Ya Ndakolo insisted.

Vice News further reported that Namibia said an entity called Mansudae Overseas Project Group was also involved 'in several military construction projects', including a military academy and the ongoing construction of the headquarters of the Ministry of Defence.

It said the UN report stated that Mansudae is linked to the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (Komid), which the US Treasury described last year as "North Korea's primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons".

The Namibian authorities are said to have responded that they were not aware of the ties between the two entities.

The UN report also said that as late as August 2015, North Korean labourers 'were undertaking construction activities at another military base in Suiderhof', near Windhoek.At the time of publication, Namibia had not responded to the panel regarding those charges.

The monitoring body determined that the 'construction of any munitions factory or related military facilities' is prohibited under existing resolutions targeting the DPRK.

Ya Ndakolo yesterday said he was not in a position to comment about the construction of government buildings because such projects are the responsibility of the Ministry of Works and Transport.

Mansudae Overseas Project Group has benefited from major sensitive government projects such as the construction of State House, Heroes' Acre and the Independence Museum in Namibia.

Deputy prime minister and international relations' minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah yesterday said she will refrain from commenting until she has studied the UN report.

She, however, said Namibia has been cooperating with UN investigators and responded to all questions posed to the Namibian government.

The UN Security Council has hit North Korea with tighter and harder sanctions for continuing with its nuclear weapons' programme.

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