U.S. declines to comment on reported North Korean arms sales to Ethiopia

In-depth Report:

The U.S. State Department declined on Monday to comment on a New York Times report saying the Bush administration allowed Ethiopia to complete a secret arms purchase from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), in what appears to be a violation of the sanctions,

“This refers to a New York Times story that appeared on Sunday, and I stated in the morning I’m not going to have any particular comment on the details of that story,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

“I talked a lot about our commitment to upholding Security Council resolutions as well as our commitment to preventing the traffic in illicit technologies, materials that may be used for a weapons of mass destruction program,” he said.

On Sunday, the New York Times reported that months after the United States pressed the United Nations to impose sanctions on the DPRK, the Bush administration allowed Ethiopia to complete a secret arms purchase from the DPRK, in what appears to be a violation of the sanctions.

The United States allowed the arms delivery to go through in January in part because Ethiopia was in the midst of a military offensive against Islamic militia inside Somalia, a campaign that aided the American policy of combating religious extremists in the Horn of Africa, the report said.

However, the arms deal is an example of the compromises that result from the clash of two foreign policy absolutes: the Bush administration’s commitment to fighting Islamic radicalism and its effort to starve the DPRK government of money it could use to build up its nuclear weapons program, the report said.

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