NORTH KOREA DENOUNCES US DRUG TRAFFICKING REPORT
SEOUL (AP)--North Korea lashed out Friday at a new U.S. State
Department report accusing the communist regime in the strongest terms
to date of state-sponsored drug trafficking, denouncing it as a
"mud-slinging" smear campaign.
The annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, released
Monday in Washington, painted North Korea as an increasingly bold
trafficker in methamphetamine and heroin and said Pyongyang was likely
backing it "for profit as state policy."
It cited recent drug seizures throughout East Asia and testimony from
defectors who say North Korea has large-scale poppy cultivation for
"It appears doubtful that large quantities of illicit narcotics could
be produced in and/or trafficked through North Korea without
high-level party and/or government involvement, if not state support,"
the report concluded.
A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman dismissed the allegations
Friday, saying his government "bans by law the use, transaction and
production of drug which renders people mentally deformed."
"This mud-slinging is a product of the U.S. policy of isolating and
stifling DPRK," he told the North's official KCNA news agency. DPRK
stands for Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's
"The U.S. would be well advised to mind its own business," he
The U.S. and several of North Korea's neighbors, including Japan, have
often suspected the impoverished nation of trafficking drugs to prop
up its failed economy.
But U.S. officials had referred only infrequently to North Korea's
role in the illicit trade.
That changed after the North Korean cargo ship Pong Su was caught off
the coast of Australia last April with 125 kilograms of heroin in its
The stash was worth US$154 million.
The State Department's report cited that incident along with a June
2003 seizure of 50 kilograms of methamphetamine in the South Korean
port of Busan.
At the time, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported the shipment
had an estimated street value of $250 million.
The drugs were packed onto a Chinese ship in the North Korean port of
Najin, it said. While it is unclear where the methamphetamine was
manufactured, the State Department said the seizure suggests collusion
between Chinese and North Korean drug runners.
On Friday, six men including three North Koreans were ordered to stand
trial in Australian court for drug smuggling charges in the Pong Su
The trial could shed more light on North Korea's alleged role in
international drug trafficking.