MAPUTO– Mozambique’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Maria Lucas, has refuted claims broadcast by United States cable television station CNN that Mozambique is violating United Nations sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and is co-operating militarily with Pyongyang.

Interviewed by Radio Mozambique here Monday, Lucas said the only co-operation between Mozambique and the DPRK is political. She added that international experts will be visiting the country in the first quarter of the year to monitor compliance with the sanctions against the Kin Jong-un regime.

The experts are from the United Nations panel set up in 2009 to monitor the sanctions, which were imposed because of Pyongyang’s illicit nuclear weapons programme. Lucas said Mozambique is willing to co-operate with the UN panel.

The government recently invited the panel to visit Mozambique to see on the spot the work the country is doing to collaborate with this panel. The panel has promised to visit Mozambique during this quarter, she added.

Lucas said Mozambique has historic relations with the DPRK dating back to the early days of the liberation struggle against Portuguese colonial rule, when the DSPRK provided support for the guerrilla army of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo).

We continue to have these political relations with North Korea, but because Mozambique is part of the United Nations, we are co-operating with all the work of the UN panel on the sanctions against North Korea, said Lucas.

Mozambique is implementing all the lessons and agenda of the United Nations and that is why work is being done on the ground to identify some Mozambican companies working with North Korea before the publication of the sanctions.

She claimed the government had been working with these companies to make them aware of the sanctions, and insisted now we have no economic relations with North Korea.

The CNN piece claimed to have stumbled across a joint fishing venture between Mozambique and North Korea. It filmed two rusting vessels named Susan 1 and Susan 2 in the Maputo fishing port, which it claimed were sanctions busting trawlers manned by crews from North Korea.

CNN showed ignorance of the Mozambican economy by describing fishing as one of the country’s most lucrative industries. While this may have been true in the 1970s, today fisheries accounts for a small percentage of the Mozambican economy and of exports.

After the first couple of minutes, CNN switches to much more serious allegations of military co-operation. CNN claims that it uncovered a secret web of front companies, military co-operation and elite-forces training deals between North Korea and Mozambique, all in violation of international sanctions but provided no specific details.