The Israeli government has exported hundreds of thousands of dollars worth gold to the reclusive North Korean regime despite UN sanctions. The UN has chastised Israel for engaging in trade with Pyongyang violating the international sanction that is in place since 2006.
Israeli ministers admitted to the embarrassing revelation during a Knesset hearing on 9 December after UN authorities sought an explanation over the exports. Besides gold, the Israeli government is thought to have been trading in other items as well with the isolated regime.
"Unfortunately, there have been exports of gold and sadly they were exposed and we had to give explanations," David Houry, director of exports at the Tax Authority in Israel, told the hearing when asked about the trade. Houry added that attempts to supply more gold shipments to North Korea were stopped to avoid further embarrassment. He said it is estimated that $400,000 (£263,600) worth of gold has been shipped to North Korea over a period of time.
"There has been almost no exporting of gold to North Korea since 2011, and our exports only included books and dental implants," he said. As per the UN Security Council Resolution 1718 that was adopted in 2006, countries have been prohibited from sending luxury goods to North Korea in response to its ambitious nuclear programme.
Nevertheless, the secretive regime has been finding convoluted ways to beat the restrictions to satisfy its leader, Kim Jong-un. Israel's Knesset Economics Committee chairman Eitan Cabel also criticised the Israeli authorities and said the exported gold had not gone to the famished North Koreans but to the regime. Officials at Israel's tax department blamed bureaucratic difficulties for the failure to implement UN regulations.