In a first in Australia, a Sydney man of South Korean origin has been charged with acting as an economic agent for North Korea by trying to sell weapons of mass destruction worth millions of dollars to Indonesia, Vietnam and other undisclosed countries, Australia Federal police allege.
Choi Han-chan, who was arrested from his Eastwood home on Saturday night, has been denied bail and he will be produced before a court next week.
The 59-year-old naturalised Australian acted alone to make money but gave North Korean officials the impression that he was doing everything to serve some higher patriotic purpose, police said.
Besides missile components, Choi also brokered the sale of coal, oil and gem stones on behalf of North Korea to groups in Vietnam and Indonesia violating UN sanctions against the regime, police said.
Choi is the first man accused by Australia for breaching the country’s 1995 Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act.
Police said Choi’s acts did not pose any security threat to Australia as he was dealing with elements in the black market.
Responding to Choi’s arrests, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it is a serious matter adding that Australian Federal Force will find anyone trying to help North Korea.