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View more articles by Hamish Macdonald
Hamish Macdonald is an NK News contributor and has previously worked at The Korea Herald and for the Australia Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney.
Ethiopia is currently working to restrict the number of bank accounts in use by the North Korean Embassy in Addis Ababa and its affiliated personnel, according to the country’s implementation report of UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions under Resolution 2321.
The recently uploaded report, submitted on July 13, details three measures the Ethiopian government has taken in order to enforce UNSC Resolutions 2270 and 2321, both of which passed in 2016.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is currently working in coordination with the National Bank of Ethiopia to take measures to limit the number of bank accounts of the embassy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its diplomats and consular officers to one account,” the report reads.
Resolution 2321 instructs member states to limit the number of accounts held at banks in their territory to one per DPRK diplomatic mission and one per properly accredited North Korean diplomat and consular officer.
Ethiopia also reported having taken measures related to the internal distribution of lists detailing blacklisted individuals and the imposition of restrictions on the entry or transit of North Koreans affiliated with the DPRK’s military or nuclear and ballistic missile programs within the country.
In its 2017 report, a UN Panel of Experts (PoE) – tasked with monitoring sanctions evasion – reported that a representative of the sanctioned Tanchon Commercial Bank had transited through Ethiopia.
Tanchon Commercial Bank was sanctioned by the UNSC in 2009 for “being engaged in or providing support for, including through other illicit means, DPRK’s nuclear-related, other weapons of mass destruction-related and ballistic missile-related programmes.”
The implementation report also claimed that Ethiopia has “no scientific or technical cooperation” with North Korea, with the exception of the embassy, or any interaction with persons or groups currently under UNSC sanctions.
North Korea-Ethiopia diplomatic relations date back to the mid-1970s and over the years, bilateral ties have focused heavily on military cooperation.
This has involved the training by Pyongyang of local militias and special forces, as well as the supply of munitions, tanks, Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and artillery.
North Korea has also helped set up two arms factories in Ethiopia, one near Ambo and the other near Debre Zeyit.
It also likely continued to purchase military goods from North Korea into the mid to late 2000’s, though Wikileaks cables show that Ethiopia did request information from the U.S. for possible alternative suppliers.
In its 2014 report the PoE said it had identified “a possible connection between an Ethiopian ammunition producer and an entity from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which may be in violation of the arms embargo.”
This involved a company called Homicho Ammunition Engineering Industry – the same name as the ammunition factory complex constructed with North Korean assistance in Ambo.
In 2015, the PoE reported that the North Korean Korea Mineral Trading General Corporation had been removed from the list of suppliers on the Homicho Ammunition Engineering Industry website and that the panel was awaiting further information from Ethiopia on the issue.
Ethiopian Airlines was also involved in transporting a shipment of North Korea arms seized by South African authorities in 2009, which included five tonnes of equipment including tanks and armored engines.
The panel has also investigated the potential involvement of Ethiopia in exporting luxury goods to the DPRK, but was reportedly unable to corroborate reports.
No information on past or present military cooperation was detailed in the Ethiopian implementation report, however in its report on Resolution 2270 implementation, published in April 2016, the MFA claimed that there was “no active military or economic cooperation agreement with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”.
The NK Pro Trade Map shows North Korean exports to Ethiopia in 2016 amounted to over USD$5.7 million with imports in the same year amounting to over USD$6.3 million, though North Korean trade can often be confused with its southern neighbor by countries with lax reporting practices.
Edited by Oliver Hotham