Chan Han Choi has allegedly been trying to sell missile parts and expertise, as well as coal and other exports in a bid to circumvent global sanctions on North Korea.
A Sydney man has been charged by the Australian Federal Police for allegedly working as an agent for North Korea.
Chan Han Choi — who has lived in Australia for the past 30 years and is believed to be South Korean-born — is accused of attempting to sell missile parts, missile construction plans, software and technical expertise on the black market to raise funds for the Kim Jong-Un regime.
The 59-year-old is the first person charged under federal laws preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. He has also been charged with breaching UN sanctions by “brokering services for the sale of missiles and related expertise from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”.
He is also believed to have been involved in the attempted offload of commodities such as coal to entities in Vietnam and Indonesia, as international sanctions including blanket trade bans aimed at curbing the rogue nation’s aggression, continue to cripple its economy.
It is understood the deals would have secured “tens of millions of dollars” for North Korea if they had been successful.
The resident of Eastwood was put under surveillance earlier this year after a tip off from international authorities.
He has been denied bail and is expected to front Central Local Court next week. The maximum sentence for the pending charges is 10 years imprisonment.
“I know these charges sound alarming, but we are not suggesting that there are any weapons or missile componentry that came to Australian soil,” AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan said.
“This man was a loyal agent of North Korea, who believed he was acting to serve some higher patriotic purpose.”
This man was a loyal agent of North Korea, who believed he was acting to serve some higher patriotic purpose.
“I think at the end of the day he would sell whatever he could to make money back for the North Korean government.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the charges against Mr Choi are of the “gravest nature”.
“North Korea is a dangerous, reckless, criminal regime threatening the peace of the region, it supports itself by breaching UN sanctions, not simply by selling commodities like coal and other goods, but also by selling weapons, by selling drugs, by engaging in cyber crime,” he said.
“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.
“The charges that are being laid are of the gravest nature, so I’ll say no more about the facts of the case, obviously it will be dealt with in court.”
Kim Jong-Un takes another swipe at Donald Trump
The North Korean dictator labelled Donald Trump an “old lunatic” through the state-run news agency KCNA yesterday, and said the US was “frightened” after the latest missile test.
“Frightened by the DPRK’s successful test-fire of ICBM Hwasong-15, old lunatic Trump talked about ‘way of serious approach’,” it said in a statement.
“Anti-DPRK hardliners including the US ambassador to the United Nations let out such nonsense as ‘dangerous circumstances’, going so impudent as to urge the DPRK not to ‘make a mistake.’”
“War maniacs of the US are urging ‘Congress to discuss the issue of pre-emptive attack’ on the DPRK, referring to the need to ‘withdraw American citizens’ from South Korea, only to make a war against the DPRK an established fact.’”
North Korean newspaper Minju Joson also issued a threat to the President.
“We warn him once again that if his regime resorts to military counteraction after losing discretion, it will face a tougher countermeasure by the DPRK and fall deeper into a quagmire.
“The Trump-led US authorities should behave with reason, well aware of where they are standing and what they are doing.
“They had better cool their heads heated by war hysteria and be prudent if they don’t want to meet bitterer disgrace and destruction.”