WASHINGTON - Mozambique is denying allegations that it continues to do business with North Korea in violation of U.N. sanctions.
A CNN report published this month found that North Korea has signed contracts worth millions of dollars in Mozambique, funneled the money through diplomatic channels and used profits from fishing vessels off the Mozambican coast to fund its nuclear program.
But Mozambique’s deputy minister of foreign affairs and cooperation, Maria Manuela Lucas, denied that her government has made any agreements with North Korea that violate sanctions. She said Mozambique welcomes outside monitoring.
“The Mozambican government recently invited the U.N. panel to visit Mozambique to see the work that the country is doing to be able to collaborate with this panel. The panel has recently been assembled and will also publish a report of the last meeting. The panel promised to visit Mozambique this quarter,” said Lucas.
She also said her government is working with private Mozambican businesses to educate them about the sanctions and shut down illegal operations.
The report also alleges that North Korea is providing military training to elite Mozambican forces and offering technical support to the military. A previous U.N. report alleged that North Korea and Mozambique had a military partnership worth at least $6 million. North Korea used a shell company to sell weapons, including missiles, radar and air defense systems, according to the report.
Mozambican opposition figures seized on the CNN report as evidence of the ruling Frelimo Party’s corrupt and inept leadership. “It shows lack of seriousness on the part of our government, by our rulers, who establish shady business on the fringes of what are the international rules, which can somehow penalize the image of Mozambique,” said Fernando Bismarques, a spokesman for the Democratic Movement of Mozambique, an opposition party.
The United States, which has led the charge for tougher sanctions against North Korea, declined to comment specifically about the Mozambique case, but said it would continue to hold countries accountable.
“All U.N. member states are required to implement sanctions resolutions in good faith, and we expect them all to do so,” a U.S. State Department official said.
“We continue to call on all countries, including Mozambique, to take the appropriate steps to apply maximum pressure on the DPRK including reducing economic ties.”
Anabela Guedes and Alfredo Junior contributed to this report.