Aerospace, Technology

Customs Charges Pacific Aerospace For Alleged Unlawful Exports To North Korea

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Charges have been laid against a New Zealand company for exporting aircraft parts to North Korea as the UN attempts to quell the most pressing nuclear threat in decades.

New Zealand Customs has charged Pacific Aerospace for the export of aircraft parts, and an alleged “erroneous declaration” about parts inside an exported aircraft – a breach of UN sanctions.

International security expert  and Waikato University law professor Al Gillespie said the danger of a full-scale nuclear conflict was palpable this week, the highest since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

“You don’t accidentally or recklessly export to North Korea at the moment, it defies logic, and it’s been like this since 2006.

On Wednesday, US president Donald Trump promised to meet any threat from the hermit state with “fire and fury”.

North Korea responded, a spokesman saying a nuclear strike plan for the US Pacific territory of Guam was being examined.

Pacific Aerospace should have taken advice on exports to North Korea, Gillespie said.

“As soon as the word North Korea comes up, all sorts of alarm bells should be ringing.

“If they got an invitation to send a plane to the Islamic State caliphate, would they have done it?”

Customs confirmed last week it was investigating Pacific Aerospace for potentially breaching United Nations sanctions after a New Zealand-made plane was sighted at a North Korean airshow in September 2016.

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Three charges for the export of aircraft parts, and one charge the alleged “erroneous declaration” have now been laid.

Pacific Aerospace chief executive Damian Camp declined to comment while the company reviewed the charges.

Previously, Camp expressed surprise when one of the company’s P-750 XSTOL planes was spotted at the Wonsan Air Festival in North Korea in September 2016.

A UN Security Council report from February includes a chain of emails that suggest the company knew one its planes was in North Korea, and planned to provide parts and engineering training.

The emails, from January 2016, show Pacific Aerospace and its Chinese partner were planning to provide a replacement flap motor, tools and training to fix a problem with the aircraft.

“We are planning for [name redacted] to deliver training on how to replace the flap motor and he will provide the necessary tools for one of the BGAC reassembly team to be able to replace the flap motor in North Korea,” an email from Pacific Aerospace to a Chinese counterpart says.

The direct or indirect supply of aircraft, related parts and aerospace training to North Korea is a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1718.

The 2006 resolution was agreed on by UN member states in response to North Korea testing a nuclear weapon.

Under New Zealand law, a company which breaches a UN-mandated ban can be fined up to $100,000.

A company can be fined up to $5000 for making an erroneous declaration under the Customs and Excise Act.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) declined to comment, but in a previous statement said it expects New Zealand companies to abide by the letter and spirit of UN sanctions.

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