Israel exported $400k in gold to N. Korea, violated UN sanctions, Knesset hearing reveals

© Nayef Hashlamoun
Israel has sold gold worth an estimated $400,000 to North Korea, according to the Israeli tax authority – an action which is in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions in place for almost 10 years.

The Knesset Economics Committee ordered a ban Wednesday on exporting luxury goods to North Korea, in compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1718, adopted in 2006 after Pyongyang’s first nuclear test.

At the same Knesset hearing, the export director of the Israel Tax Authority, David Khoury, admitted "there was export of gold, and regretfully [the UN] discovered this and we were required to give explanations," as reported by Israeli news agency Haaretz.

Khoury told the committee the gold exported since 2006 was worth $400,000 in total. Since 2011, there have been no exports to North Korea besides the gold, save for “books and dental implants,” and in 2014 there were no exports at all.

The ban on the export or import of luxury items to North Korea authorized by the Knesset on Wednesday includes a long list of goods, including wine and alcohol, tobacco, caviar, yachts, furs, gold, precious and semiprecious stones, art, computer technology, sporting equipment and other items.

Committee chairman Eitan Cabel criticized the delay in adopting the ban.

“If there was such a long delay, for almost 10 years, on such a relatively simple matter, what will happen with more significant issues?” he asked, according to the Jerusalem Post.

“The gold certainly is not going to North Korean citizens, who don’t have enough to eat,” Cabel added.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718 was adopted after North Korea claimed it successfully tested a domestically-designed nuclear weapon. The sanctions imposed by the resolution prohibited any export of arms, except small arms and light weapons, as well as resources that may contribute to Pyongyang’s nuclear program, including luxury goods.