UK & World News

  • 3 January 2014, 20:35

North Korea Ski Resort May Breach UN Sanctions

A new ski resort in North Korea has been supplied with equipment which may breach United Nations sanctions against the country.

Photographs of the new resort, the country's first, at Masik show newly manufactured North American and European ski equipment.

One photograph shows three modern snow ploughs. Two of them are manufactured by the Italian firm Prinoth.

Another photo shows some skiers riding on a Ski-Doo snowmobile, which is made by the Canadian firm Bombardier.

A third photograph shows state-of-the-art snow cannons, which are used to artificially create snow.

The cannons, which can be seen dotted all the way up the mountain, are made by Areco of Sweden. They cost upwards of 14,000 each.

North Korea is subject to United Nations sanctions which ban the import of a wide range of products.

The latest resolution, adopted in March 2013, reaffirmed earlier resolutions.

Each one bans member states from exporting weapons and associated goods, equipment which could aid the country's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and "luxury goods" to North Korea.

However, the UN fails to itemise the specific items which would fall within its "luxury goods" bracket, thus providing North Korea and its suppliers with potential loopholes.

The European Union has issued its own list of "luxury goods" banned from export to North Korea. It states clearly that European companies are banned from exporting "articles and equipment for skiing, golf, diving and water sports" to North Korea.

It is almost certain that the equipment came through China. The two countries share a border across which almost all of North Korea's goods flow.

China has its own ski resorts and it is possible that the European and North American firms thought their products were destined for China.

Speaking to NK News, a website which focuses on North Korea, the CEO of Areco Johan Erling said he had "no idea" how at least seven Areco snow cannons had turned up in North Korea.

Mr Erling told NK News that his company sells about 40 snow ploughs to its Chinese reseller every year.

Last week, the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was photographed at the opening of the new resort, the building of which is believed to have been his personal ambition. Mr Kim was educated in Switzerland, though it is not clear whether he can actually ski.

He was pictured taking a ride, without skis, on one of the resort's chair-lifts which appeared not to be new. The two-seater lift looked conspicuously dated.

Last year, it emerged that North Korea had tried to purchase ski-lifts from Switzerland but was blocked from doing so by the Swiss government.

A Swiss journalist who was permitted to visit the resort when it was being built claimed that the failure to secure Swiss ski-lifts prompted the North Korean authorities to relocate an old chair-lift from elsewhere in the country.

It was only long enough to stretch half way up the mountain.

The resort was built largely by hand and by conscripted soldiers to a tight deadline set by Mr Kim.

North Korea is one of the world's poorest countries. Its people remain largely cut off from the outside world.

United Nations sanctions were first imposed on the country following nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. The latest resolution, adopted in 2013, followed the test-launch of a long range Unha-3 rocket from the country's west coast.

Sky News has contacted both Bombardier Recreational Products and Prinoth. Neither has yet responded to our emails.

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