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GABORONE, Botswana — The Namibian government has confirmed that North Korea built an arms and ammunition factory in the African country and is in the process of executing other contracts for the construction of the country's first military academy, military barracks and a new headquarters for the Ministry of Defense (MoD).

The confirmation came a week after the government refuted the recent United Nations Panel of Experts (PoE), which found that Pyongyang has continuously violated UN Security Council sanctions imposed to protest its nuclear weapons program by providing military weapons, training and embarking on military-related construction projects in African countries, including Uganda and Namibia.

This week, Namibian Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah confirmed that the North Korean state-owned firm Mansudae Overseas Projects, through its subsidiary Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID), had indeed built a small arms and ammunition factory in the capital Windhoek.

The arms and ammunition factory was completed in 2005, although the company continued doing business in Namibia until early last year.

The US Treasury defines KOMID as "North Korea's primary arms dealer and main proliferation channel" for goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons. Nandi-Ndaitwah said North Korea and Namibia have a long history of military cooperation, which dates back to the struggle for independence.

According to the leaked UN report, Namibia also confirmed that KOMID had been contracted to implement several other multibillion-dollar government projects, including the construction of the State House, the National Heroes Acre, the Namibian Defense Force (NDF) Military Museum and the Independence Museum.

However, Nandi-Ndaitwah said the Namibian government cooperated with the UN requests for information because there was nothing wrong with contracting the sanctioned North Korean company to build Namibian infrastructure and provide technical training to its armed forces.

She said the small arms and ammunition factory built by North Korea cannot be seen as a contravention of UN sanctions because all the products it manufactures are not for export but for use by Namibian security agencies.

Further, Nandi-Ndaitwah said the UN sanctions are primarily aimed at North Korea's nuclear weapons program and do not prohibit Namibia from having diplomatic or other military relations with Pyongyang.

However, Namibia's assessment varies with the leaked UN report, which concluded that "the construction of any munitions factory or related military facilities is considered to be services or assistance relating to the provision, manufacture or maintenance of arms and related material and therefore, prohibited under the resolutions."

Last year, the UN Panel of Experts on sanctions against North Korea found that the country had provided small arms equipment and counterinsurgency training for Uganda'a police and military special forces in contravention of the UN Security Council sanctions.

Email: onkala@defensenews.com

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