Behind Secret Global Arms Trade, a North Korean Duo

Ship weapons to Iran, Syria, Myanmar
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2010 9:25 AM CDT
Behind Secret Global Arms Trade, a North Korean Duo
A visitor points with am umbrella at a poster of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, painted by North Korean defector Sun Moo, at the Korea War Museum in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

North Korea operates a vast global arms and nuclear materials trading network, and two men related by marriage largely control this expanding operation. In announcing economic sanctions yesterday, the Obama administration named Chun Byung-ho and Yun Ho-jin—likely Chun's son-in-law—who have shipped components for nuclear reactors, long-range missiles, and other arms to Iran, Syria, and Myanmar. The Wall Street Journal takes a look at the shadowy pair.

Chun runs a committee overseeing Office 99, North Korea's little-known foreign trade office, which sells arms and funnels the proceeds directly to dictator Kim Jong Il. Yun owns an arms company. Together the two have built a network of front companies in Asia and Europe and have partnered with Asian crime syndicates to move money and goods. Yun also does business openly in China, making deals with a Chinese state-owned firm. "There is no reason to assume that Chun and Yun won't sell nuclear weapons," says a former Bush administration official who spent a decade tracking Pyongyang's arms trade. "There needs to be an active effort to disrupt their WMD networks and drive them out of business now, before it's too late." (More North Korea stories.)

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