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How North Korea's leader gets his luxury cars



WASHINGTON – The armored black sedans appear everywhere with Kim Jong-un, elegant western chariot for the young dictator of North Korea.

Flown from the North Korean capital of Pyongyang in a cargo plane, the limousines carried Mr. Kim through the streets of Singapore, Hanoi and Vladivostok during the summit with President Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin from Russia. Sometimes a phalanx of bodyguards hunts beside them.

The cars are first-class Mercedes-Benz models – the Maybach S600 Pullman Guard and the Maybach S62, which are popular with world market leaders and each cost up to 1

.6 million US dollars. And Mr. Kim uses them to defy United Nations sanctions on North Korean luxury goods.

Western high-end goods pass through a complex system of port transfers, according to a survey by the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, a non-profit Washington group that deals with smuggling networks, and a New York Times study Dodge maneuvering on possible limits of sanctions tool for the Trump administration to force Pyongyang to engage in serious negotiations to end its nuclear weapons program . American officials claim that their only real lever against North Korea is harsh sanctions. During the failed summit meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February, Mr Kim's main request was to lift the sanctions imposed since the end of 2016.

At the request of the government of President George W. Bush, the United Nations imposed sanctions in 2006 to keep luxury goods out of North Korea.

This port city is located next to Vladivostok where Mr Kazachuk is located. According to shipping data and executives of the shipping agency, the ship had named Nachodka as the destination after leaving Busan with the cars. But the researchers say the cars could have been flown from Russia to North Korea. On October 7, three cargo jets from Air Koryo, North Korea's state-owned airline, arrived in Vladivostok. (This happened to be the same day that Mr. Kim drove a Pyongyang Rolls Royce to meet with Mr. Pompeo.)

It is rare for North Korean freighters to fly to Vladivostok. The Jets are exactly the same aircraft that used to carry Kim's vehicles to back numbers outside North Korea.

"Given the heavy capacity of the aircraft and their role in transporting the armored limousines of Kim Jong-un It is possible that the cargo jets could have loaded the Mercedes," the report said.

"This is the trade secret of my company," he said. "Why do I have to tell everyone where I bought these cars and to whom I sold the cars?"

There is no evidence linking Mr. Kazachuk to the movement of military technology or goods to North Korea, but international sanctions experts say Russia's Far East is a common transit point for smuggled goods to and from North Korea.

In February, the South Korean authorities seized DN5505 and Katrin on suspected sanctions violations in separate actions. The DN5505 had docked in Pohang, South Korea, and transported more than 3,200 tons of coal after sailing from Nachodka. Officials told the South Korean shipping agency staff who handled the ship that it was being investigated for transportation of North Korean coal. The other ship, the Katrin, was accused of bringing petroleum products to North Korea.

Mr. Kazachuk said he, as a shipowner, was not responsible for what the ships were carrying. He also said that the South Korean authorities are in a "state crash" and may have planted evidence on the ships. "The South Korean police spit on basic human rights from a tall bell tower," he said.

There is another connection between his ships and suspected sanctions violations. When the DN5505 dumped its coal cargo in Pohang on the return trip last autumn after unloading the two sedans, a company called Enermax Korea took the coal.

The United Nations Panel has investigated Enermax, registered in South Korea for sanctions violations.

The 2019 Panel Report states that Enermax is the final recipient of North Korean coal to be shipped to Indonesian waters in April 2018 by a vessel flying a North Korean flag. the Wise Honest, to a Russian cargo ship. The Indonesian authorities detained the Wise Honest around April 1st.

Enermax had signed a contract to buy coal from a Hong Kong-registered company, but informed the panel that it was buying Indonesian coal from someone who appeared to be a local broker in Indonesia.

The purchase contract valued the coal at almost $ 3 million.

In May, the US announced that they would take the Wise Honest.

In an interview, executives at Enermax announced the deal with the Indonesian broker fell apart and no money was exchanged. They also said that they had thought that the coal that the DN5505 had delivered to South Korea last October – just after the Mercedes had been unloaded – and that this February was of Russian origin. They said Mr. Kazachuk had told them that the coal came from Russia.

The South Korean authorities have seized at least six ships since the end of 2017 on suspicion of sanctions violations. Last month, it began to scrape the Katrin. Officials said the dismantling was at the request of Mr. Kazachuk, who did not want to charge any further dock fees for the seized ship.


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