North Korea: Australian man charged with brokering missile deals for secretive communist state

'This man was a loyal agent of North Korea, who believed he was acting to serve some higher patriotic purpose' 

Hannah Lawrence
Sunday 17 December 2017 11:04 GMT
Police arrest Chan Han Cho on brokering charges in Australia

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A man accused of brokering missile deals with North Korea has been arrested by Australian police.

Chan Han Choi, 59, has been charged with brokering sales and discussing the supply of weapons of mass destruction.

The Australia Federal Police alleged Mr Choi was acting as an economic agent for the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea and was therefore in breach of United Nations and Australian sanctions.

“This man was a loyal agent of North Korea, who believed he was acting to serve some higher patriotic purpose," said assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan. ”This case is like nothing we have ever seen on Australian soil.”

He added that Mr Choi, a naturalised Australian citizen of Korean descent, had been in touch with high-ranking North Korean officials but no missile components had ever actually reached Australia.

He faces a total of six charges, two under an act preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, two for contravening a UN sanction law, and two for contravening Australia’s own sanctions laws.

Mr Choi, who has been living in Australia for more than 30 years, faces up to 18 years in jail if he is convicted.

Police said he had been identified as a person of interest earlier this year and the force launched Operation Byahaut in response.

“This is black market 101,” AC Gaughan said. “We are alleging that all the activity occurred offshore, and was purely another attempt for this man to trade goods and services as a way to raise revenue for the government of North Korea.”

North Korea has been subject to a new round of strict United Nations sanctions this year after defying international pressure and continuing with its missile and nuclear programmes.

In November Pyongyang said it had successfully tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach any part of the US mainland.

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