Aussies Charge Guy With Trying to Hawk N. Korean Missile Tech

South Korean-born man was trying to raise cash on behalf of Pyongyang, cops say
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2017 8:33 AM CST
Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull attends a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.   (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP)
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(Newser) – Australia on Saturday arrested one of its own citizens and charged him with acting as an economic agent on behalf of North Korea in attempting to sell the Hermit Kingdom's missile technology, reports the New York Times. South Korean-born Chan Han Choi, 59, was "discussing the supply of weapons of mass destruction" with unnamed "international entities," said an official with the Australian Federal Police. Among missile components he was allegedly trying to sell on behalf of Pyongyang was guiding software for ballistic missiles, as well as what the Times calls "unspecified North Korean military expertise." Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull called the arrest a "very, very serious matter" on behalf of a "dangerous, reckless, criminal regime," reports the AP, and said that for anyone with similar intentions, "the AFP will find you."

Choi's alleged actions are in violation of Australian and United Nations sanctions against North Korea; he faces six charges that also include trying to sell coal to parties in Indonesia and Vietnam. He's the first person charged under Australia's Weapons of Mass Destruction Act, and could face 10 years in prison, notes the AP. Police say the charges relate to activities over the past year, but that Choi has been active dating back to 2008. Two unsuccessful transactions Choi attempted would have been worth "tens of millions of dollars" for North Korea, says the AFP official. Adds Turnbull, "it is vitally important that all nations work relentlessly to enforce those sanctions because the more economic pressure that can be brought on North Korea, the sooner that regime will be brought to its senses." (Read more Australia stories.)

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