No comment from government spokesman Ofwono Opondo
Uganda has once again come under the international spotlight over its continuing military ties with the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) in contravention of UN resolutions.
The pressure comes after the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted on March 3, 2016 to expand its crippling sanctions regime against North Korea to prohibit all member countries from selling aviation fuel to the DPRK among a raft new prohibitive measures.
The sanctions came after the communist government in Pyongyang carried out nuclear tests and missile launches several times since the beginning of 2016 in contravention of existing UN sanctions.
U.S. President Barack Obama praised the new resolution, saying it had sent a clear message to Pyongyang that: “North Korea must abandon these dangerous programs and choose a better path for its people.”
The government of South Korea, which is one of North Korea’s stated enemies and a target for its nuclear weapons programme, also welcomed the new sanctions.
Whereas Uganda’s ministry of Foreign Affairs has since issued a statement restating its support on the use of nuclear technology for peaceful means, it criticised what it calls the selective approach to the implementation of provisions in a treaty on proliferation of nuclear arms. Pyongyang says its nuclear weapons programme is a deterrent against America’s aggression.
Of particular interest to Uganda though is that the UN Security Council has recalled its previous stance on preventing UN member countries such as Uganda from dealing with the DPRK in military spheres as has been the case.
A February 26, 2016 report by a UN Panel of Experts on the implementation of sanctions against North Korea’s nuclear activities cites Uganda as one of the countries that violate the UN sanctions by supporting North Korea’s nuclear proliferation activities.
The report says: “The Panel investigated reports that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was providing training for Ugandan police officers.
Uganda confirmed that 45 nationals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including 19 security instructors for the paramilitary police, had provided such training and that it was continuing as at December 2015.”
The panel of experts says that the DPRK carries out these military exercises especially with African countries in exchange for money, which ends up funding its nuclear arms programme.
The panel of experts report says that Ugandan officials responded to the accusations of ignoring the UN resolutions by saying that the nature of the joint military trainings, ‘meant that there had been no violation.’ But the panel informed Ugandan authorities that Kampala was in violation of Security Council resolutions.
The report includes incriminating evidence showing pictures of North Korean soldiers dressed in Uganda People’s Defence Forces (Air force) fatigue alongside the Chief of Defence Forces Gen. Katumba Wamala.
The Embassy of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) issued a statement calling upon the Ugandan government to observe the UN resolution without delay.
The embassy statement notes that: “The Republic of Korea expects the Republic of Uganda, as the leader in East Africa and as the former President of the UN General Assembly, to implement immediately and faithfully all aspects of its international obligations including under UN Security Council resolution 2270(2016).”
Unlike previous South Korean governments that pursued appeasement policies towards their Northern brothers, the new government of President Park Geun-hye has vowed retaliation against Pyongyang’s alleged provocations.
The latest UN panel of experts report on Uganda’s compliance with international obligations on nuclear proliferation is the first of its kind since the UN slapped sanctions on the communist government ten years ago following the country’s first nuclear test.
Counsellor Kim Il-Hoon, the Deputy Ambassador to the Republic of Korea says that the report has stained Uganda’s international image and standing which had improved during its presidency of the 69th United Nations General Assembly.
Counsellor Kim said: “Uganda will continue to be mentioned and shamed at the international level for violating UN security council resolutions.”
Following the Security Council’s resolution, Pyongyang this week carried fresh missile launches in defiance.
The Spokesperson of the government of Uganda Ofwono Opondo declined to comment about the implications of the UN panel of experts report and referred us to the statement that was issued by the ministry of foreign affairs on March 4, 2016.