KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Uganda has expelled North Korean military experts and representatives of North Korean companies, including its top arms dealer, as African nations face growing pressure to comply with U.N. sanctions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.
Any North Koreans still in the East African nation are diplomats or private individuals, Okello Oryem, a deputy minister of foreign affairs, told The Associated Press.
“We are in full compliance,” Oryem said, adding that Uganda maintains normal diplomatic ties with North Korea.
Uganda specifically demanded the exit of individuals representing the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation. It is North Korea’s primary arms dealer and is under U.N. and U.S. sanctions.
The expulsion marks a policy shift for Uganda’s government, which previously had warm relations with Pyongyang.
North Korea for years trained the Ugandan security forces in physical fitness, maritime warfare and weapons handling.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, in power since 1986, previously praised Pyongyang as an exemplar of the fight against what he described as Western imperialism. In 2014, Museveni hosted a state dinner in honor of North Korea’s ceremonial leader, Kim Yong Nam, and said the North Koreans are “friends who have helped Uganda for a long time.”
But North Korea’s continuing nuclear tests have led to more sanctions and greater pressure on countries to enforce them.
A report by U.N. experts seen by the AP in March showed how Pyongyang evades sanctions imposed for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs to cooperate “on a large scale,” including military training and construction, in countries from Angola to Uganda.
The report said North Korea’s military was training Ugandan air force pilots and technicians under a contract that would have expired in March 2018. Uganda was warned the contract was in violation of sanctions, it said.