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NZ sends troops to North Korea over sanction breaches

New Zealand will deploy 44 people to North Korea over the next two months to support the United Nations sanctions.

On Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark announced a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 maritime patrol aircraft would be sent to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea.

“New Zealand is firmly committed to an enduring peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Peters said.

“We welcome the recent dialogue North Korea has had with the United States and South Korea. However, until such time as North Korea abides by its international obligations, full implementation of the United Nations Security Council sanctions resolutions will be essential.”

The P-3 Orion will undertake maritime surveillance above international waters in North Asia.

The aircraft will be deployed with 44 personnel in September and October, and be based out of Kadena Air Base in Japan.

“New Zealand will coordinate efforts with partners to counter North Korea’s maritime activities that contravene UNSC resolutions, in particular its use of ship-to-ship transfers,” Mark said.

Japan and Australia have also announced their participation in the operation today.

Peters' office said it was up to the other countries involved to formally announce their participation in the maritime surveillance and monitoring effort as they saw fit. However, it is understood as many as eight countries will be taking part, including the US.

New Zealand already has six personnel in total deployed to the Republic of Korea. Two of the officers are based in the demilitarised zones between the north and south.

Sanctions resolutions against North Korea were unanimously adopted and supported by permanent UN Security Council members.

In the past, Peters has spoken in support of stronger economic sanctions on the country.

In January, he told Newsroom economic sanctions had not been exhausted the way they should have been.

“I think the international sanction regime should be much wider and more profound and more pronounced, and bring far greater pressure to bear on the North Koreans.”

But broader sanctions would need to be matched with a positive vision for North Korea if the country was to change tack, he said.

And in June Peters said he welcomed the meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

“The New Zealand Government strongly encourages [North Korea] to realise the commitments it has made by undertaking complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation, and by abandoning its other weapons programmes…

“North Korea has an opportunity for a much brighter future, which New Zealand and the rest of the international community stands ready to support,” he said.

Peters visited North Korea last time he was Foreign Minister in 2007 – one of the few western leaders to have visited the insular dictator state.

While he was unable to strike an economic deal in exchange for North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons, he was able to get safe transit for a New Zealand birds migrating to Miranda shorebird colony, via North Korea.

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