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Israel exported $400,000 of gold to North Korea despite UN sanctions

Israeli parliament told country breached UN resolution passed in 2006 that prohibits export of gold and other luxury goods to Pyongyang
A photo released from North Korea's official news agency shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (AFP)

Israel has exported an estimated $400,000 worth of gold to North Korea in contravention of UN sanctions.

Israeli ministers made the admission during a Knesset session on Wednesday after the UN had earlier questioned Tel Aviv on suspected exports to the isolated North Korean regime.

“Unfortunately there have been exports of gold and sadly they were exposed and we had to give explanations [to the UN],” David Houry, director of exports at the tax authority in Israel told the Knesset hearing, without elaborating.

UN Security Council Resolution 1718 was passed in 2006 in response to North Korea’s programme to develop nuclear weapons. The resolution prohibits exports of luxury goods to the secretive Asian nation ruled by Kim Jong-un.

Precious metals are among the products barred from being sold to Pyongyang. Other items banned include alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, motor vehicles and perfumes.

The date of Israel’s gold export to North Korea was not revealed in the Knesset hearing. 

However, Houry said that “there has been almost no exporting of gold to North Korea since 2011, and our exports [in that time have] only included books and dental implants”.

The tax authority head added that further attempts to export gold to North Korea had been blocked in order to avoid further embarrassment for Israel.

During the session the Knesset economics committee passed an order forbidding luxury exports to North Korea, nearly 10 years after the 2006 UN resolution.

Dalit Rennert, a member of the legal team in Israel’s Economy Ministry, said the near decade-long delay in implementing the UN resolution was down to “bureaucratic difficulties,” according to Israeli daily Haaretz.

Rennert said there was “no excuse” for the delay and added that Israel had not exported anything to North Korea in 2014.

Economics committee chairperson Eitan Cabel, from the Zionist Union, criticised the gold export, saying that it was not going to citizens “who have nothing to eat” but was instead filling the coffers of leader Kim Jong-un.

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