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Officials of blacklisted NK firm visit Iran after U.N. slaps sanctions: source

2016/03/28 17:23

SEOUL, March 28 (Yonhap) -- Officials from a North Korean firm on a U.N. sanction list over its suspected arms trade visited Iran earlier this month after the U.N. Security Council imposed tougher punitive measures on the firm, a source said Monday.

The Korea Mining Development Trading Corp. (KOMID), known as North Korea's primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons, has been sanctioned by the U.S. and the United Nations since 2009.

Ranking officials from the company visited Iran on March 6, which has been long suspected of maintaining ties with North Korea over nuclear and missile programs, according to a source familiar to North Korean affairs. Tehran has denied such speculation.

The UNSC adopted a fresh resolution on March 2 for tougher sanctions over the North's January nuclear test and long-range rocket launch in February.

The 15-member council blacklisted an additional 16 North Korean officials including KOMID representatives in Iran and Syria.

It is not immediately known whether the KOMID officials who visited Iran are among the blacklisted individuals under the U.N. sanctions.

Experts said that their visit to Tehran might be aimed at discussing ways to minimize the impact of the U.N. sanctions on its missile exports to Iran.

"It is not known what they did in Iran," the source said, adding that there is a chance that they might have met with officials from Shahid Hemat Industrial Group, an Iranian defense manufacturer.

The international community has lifted crippling sanctions on Iran in exchange for halting all nuclear programs.

North Korea has vowed to continue to develop nuclear weapons, rejecting calls from the international community to follow in Iran's footsteps.

Citing a U.N. report, Japan's Kyodo News reported on March 15 that North Korean officials from the blacklisted KOMID have traveled throughout the Middle East, Asia and Africa repeatedly over the past several years,