Israel Revealed It Exported $400k in Gold to North Korea

Practice, for which UN demanded explanations, emerged during Knesset Economics committee hearing.

Zvi Zrahiya
Zvi Zrahiya
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Illustration: Gold
Illustration: GoldCredit: Bloomberg
Zvi Zrahiya
Zvi Zrahiya

Israel shipped in recent years $400,000 in gold to North Korea in defiance of a UN ban, it emerged in a hearing of the Knesset Economics Committee on Wednesday.

Israel was required to give explanations for the exports.

The committee approved Wednesday the import and export order regarding the regulation of export goods to North Korea and forbidding luxury exports, as per UN Security Council Resolution 1718, adopted in 2006.

Committee chairman Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union) criticized the delay in submitting the order for committee approval.

A representative of the Economy Ministry's legal department, Dalit Rennert, presented the order and said it would allow supervision of exports to North Korea and set that the export will be allowed only with a license. Likewise, the order sets a list of luxury products banned from exports.

When Cabel asked if there had been any exports to North Korea, David Khoury, the export director of the Israel Tax Authority, replied, "To my regret there was export of gold, and regretfully [the UN] discovered this and we were required to give explanations." He estimated the value of the gold exports amounted to $400,000.

Cabel said the gold clearly was not going to citizens, who have nothing to eat, but rather to the regime.

Khoury added that there had been practically no exports to North Korea besides the gold since 2011, save for books and dental implants. He said the order was meant to fall in line with the rest of the world. He added that he had stopped additional attempts to export gold because it subjects Israel to ridicule.

Rennert remarked that there were no exports at all to North Korea in 2014. She explained the delay in implementing the UN decisions derived from bureaucratic difficulties in convening an interministerial committee to deal with the matter.

Cable, dissatisfied with that explanation, demanded to know if the 10-year delay was intentional. Rennert admitted there was no excuse for delay, but remarked that the sanctions are renewed every two years. 

The committee approved the order, which will take effect two months from being published by the government. 

According to the order, products banned from export to North Korea include wines, all alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, caviar, crabs and lobsters, snails, mollusks and underwater invertebrates, motor vehicles, yachts and cruise boats, perfumes and eau de toilets, cosmetics, furs, precious metals including gold and silver, jewelry, precious stones including diamonds and pearls, crystal glasses, artworks, fountain pens, clocks, carpets and rugs, leather products related to travel, fashion clothes wear, consumer electronics, photo equipment, electronic entertainment equipment and programs for electronic entertainment equipment and sports equipment.

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