Skip to Content

A Suspected North Korean ‘Agent’ Has Been Arrested in Australia

AUSTRALIA-NKOREA-SANCTIONS-TRADE-CRIME-VIETNAM-INDONESIAAUSTRALIA-NKOREA-SANCTIONS-TRADE-CRIME-VIETNAM-INDONESIA
Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan speaks to the media about a North Korean agent in Sydney on Dec. 17, 2017.Peter Parks—AFP/Getty Images

Australian police have arrested and charged a man for trying to sell ballistic missile technology on the black market as an agent of North Korea, Reuters reports.

Chan Han Choi, 59, was arrested outside Sydney on Dec. 17 and charged with two counts under a law preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the first such charges in Australia. The suspect is a naturalized Australian citizen of Korean descent, according to the New York Times.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said the man was working to arrange sales of missile components and guidance systems to third-party countries, as well as trying to sell coal to countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam. Police believe he was an economic agent of Pyongyang with “patriotic” motives.

“This man was a loyal agent of North Korea, who believed he was acting to serve some higher patriotic purpose,” said Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan, adding that the case was “like nothing we have ever seen on Australian soil.”

For more on North Korea’s weapons program, watch Fortune’s video:

Gaughan said the deal could have been worth “tens of millions of dollars” if completed, but that no missile parts were transported to Australia.

The suspect is facing six charges in total. He is due to appear in court on Dec. 20.