North Korea’s traded in illegal arms via Malaysia?

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A youtube grab of a soldier with an army radio comms

The United Nations said Malaysia is where North Korean spy agents ships out battlefield radio equipment in violation of sanctions, from a company that has links in Singapore in an extensive network to cover up their activities, according to Reuters.

The Malaysian based company Called Glocom is operated by the Pyongyang branch of a Singapore-based company called Pan Systems, a draft U.N. report says, citing an invoice and other information it obtained.

Glocom is controlled by the Reconnaissance General Bureau, the North Korean intelligence agency tasked with overseas operations and weapons procurement, the report says, citing undisclosed information it obtained.

Glocom is operated by the Pyongyang branch of a Singapore-based company called Pan Systems, the draft U.N. report says, citing an invoice and other information it obtained.

In Singapore, though Pan Systems said the company used to have an office in Pyongyang from 1996 but officially ended relations with North Korea in 2010 and a Singaporean director was no longer in control of any business there, the North Koreans used the company as a front.

Reuters said one of the directors of Pan Systems, a North Korean citizen, frequently traveled to Singapore and Malaysia to meet with Pan Systems representatives, the draft U.N. report says.

The operations are run in the neighbourhood of “Little India”, behind an unmarked door on the second floor of a rundown building, at least on paper.

Political connections

One of Glocom’s early partners in Malaysia was a prominent member of Malaysia’s ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), who since 2014, has been listed as a director of International Golden Services.

As secretary of the UMNO youth wing’s international affairs bureau, the Umno member fostered political connections in the 1990s with countries, such as Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Glocom’s Little India address once housed a company owned by UMNO Youth, said Reuters.

The Malaysian director said he had been a Glocom business partner “many years back” and said it has been continuously controlled by several North Koreans,

Reuters said it saw documents drafted by the UN on the matter, and found that Glocom advertises over 30 radio systems for “military and paramilitary” organizations on its Malaysian website, glocom.com.my.

The draft U.N. report says the last July, an air shipment of North Korean military communications equipment, sent from China and bound for Eritrea, was intercepted in an unnamed country.

The seized equipment included 45 boxes of battlefield radios and accessories labeled “Glocom”, short for Global Communications Co.

U.N. resolution 1874, adopted in 2009, expanded the arms embargo against North Korea to include military equipment and all “related materiel”.

Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world which had strong ties with North Korea and their citizens can travel to each other’s countries without visas.

But those ties have begun to sour after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s estranged half-brother was murdered at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport on Feb 13.

On one trip in February 2014, the director of Pan Systems and two other North Koreans were detained in Malaysia for attempting to smuggle $450,000 through customs at Kuala Lumpur’s budget airport terminal, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters.

The North Korean trio told Malaysian authorities they all worked for Pan Systems and the cash belonged to the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, according to the two sources.

The Malaysian Attorney General decided not to press charges because of insufficient evidence. A week later, the trio was allowed to travel, and the North Korean embassy claimed the cash.