Namibia under pressure over North Korea

The Ministry of Defence will have to appoint a new contractor for its multi-million-dollar headquarters in Windhoek, which was left half-built by the North Korean firm, Mansudae Overseas Projects, following the termination of commercial relations between the two countries last year.

Namibia and 14 other African countries now find themselves embroiled in a tussle, as they are alleged to have supported North Korea's nuclear programme by funding various projects under taken by Mansudae Overseas Projects, ranging from munitions factories, state houses and apartments, CCN reported Sunday.

Mensudae, which was constructing the Defence Ministry's new headquarters, has been linked by UN investigators to alleged weapons exporters, Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (Komid). CNN reported that Namibia and other African countries were being investigated for their contracts with Mansudae and its military arm.

Although the North Korean contractors were sent packing last year, a coordinator of the UN Panel of Experts, Hugh Griffiths, said Namibia is still not in the clear.

Namibia has not been cleared. It is not enough to say you have been exonerated by the UN for North Korean sanctions violations. That's not true. The Panel deals with hard facts, with evidence, and that is what we have been asking from Namibia for many months now, Griffiths told CNN.

This is despite Namibia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah saying that Namibia has been submitting due reports on the issue to the UN.

Griffiths argued that the income derived from the 14 African countries was significant enough to boost the prospects of North Korea's nuclear programme, but Nandi-Ndaitwah strongly disagreed when asked about this.

The activities that have been taking place in Namibia in which the Koreans have been involved could not be considered to be generating such a [large] amount of money to fuel nuclear development in North Korea, Nandi-Ndaitwah said.

Defence Minister Penda ya Ndakolo confirmed that the ministry has wrapped up all the work with the North Korean company. We are done with them. As a ministry and as a country we are complying with the UN sanctions, ya Ndakolo said.

Although there have been reports circulating in the media that Namibia had contracted North Korea to build a munitions factory in the country, ya Ndakolo said there was no construction of such factory ever.

We do not have an ammunition factory in the country. I do not know where such talks emanated from, ya Ndakolo said sternly.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia