DPRK Accused of Secretly Acquiring Nuclear Tech

By Eva Rian, International News Writer

On February 5, a documentary about North Korea’s missile program aired on a German public television channel ARD, accusing North Korea of having obtained equipment and technology for its nuclear and weapons programs through its embassy in Berlin.

The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency (the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz or Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution), Hans-Georg Maasen, stated that they have “noticed that so many procurement activities have taken place from the embassy.” According to Reuters, the technology thusly acquired are apparently what are often called dual use goods, which can be used for both civil and military purposes.

The BBC notes that a separate investigation by ARD reported that the BfV agency first saw signs of North Korea’s “procurement activities” – evidence of product purchases destined for North Korea’s missile program – in 2016 and 2017. That same report also alleges that in 2014 a North Korean diplomat attempted to acquire a monitor that measures gas emissions during the production of chemical weapons. The DW adds that Maasen also noted that the authorities believe that the parts for North Korea’s launch program were likely acquired through “shadow buyers or shadow markets abroad, which they had bought in Germany.” Furthermore, Maasen took care to point out that while they can try to stop such endeavors when found out, they “cannot guarantee that this can be prevented in all cases.”

On the other hand, a spokesman from the North Korean embassy in Berlin called the report and allegations “simply not true,” while the German Foreign Ministry issued a statement that it was currently unaware of any illegal activities at the embassy. The ministry stated that “should employees of the North Korean embassy in Berlin pursue illegal activities in the future, we will crack down on them,” CNN reports.

North Korea has long defied years of multilateral and bilateral sanctions on its weapons and nuclear programs in its pursuit of nuclear-tipped missiles capable of hitting the United States. The maverick nation’s repeated weapons tests incited another round of increasingly strict resolutions from the UN Security Council against Pyongyang in 2017. These measures, egged on by intense lobbying from Washington, targeted energy, money transfers, and shipping; however, UN Investigators found in a recent report that North Korea is already flouting these recent resolutions by “exploiting global oil supply chains, complicit foreign nationals, offshore company registries and the international banking system.”

Additionally, the Guardian notes, these new allegations also come in the wake of a report from the United Nations, published on the 2nd, which says North Korea is flouting sanctions by exporting coal, iron, steel, and other banned commodities – in the process earning nearly $200 million in revenue last year alone. A UN panel of experts also found evidence of North Korea’s military cooperation in Syria’s development of chemical weapons and Myanmar’s acquisition of ballistic missiles.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 13th print edition.

Contact Eva at



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