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Guide to Customs Administration

Crackdown on Illegal Strategic Materials

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Concept of strategic materials export control

  • “Strategic materials” are weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and items, technologies and software which can be used to develop, manufacture or use WMD.
  • “Strategic materials export control” is a system intended to prevent strategic materials from going to any country of concern, terrorist group, etc. The member countries of the four international export control regimes control the spread of WMD by using their authority to permit the export of strategic materials.

International export control regimes

Export Control Regime

* Under the export control regimes, export control principles and export-controlled items are specified and the member countries control them under their own laws.
(Korea has joined all the four regimes.)

* For reference
  • Nuclear Suppliers Groups (NSG): Controls related to atomic energy materials
  • Australia Group (AG): Controls related to biological and chemical weapons
  • Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR): Controls related to missiles
  • Wassenaar Arrangement (WA): Control related to conventional weapons and dual-use item

Trend of strategic materials export control

  • Controlling the export of strategic materials emerged as a core issue of international security after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
  • The strategic materials export control system has become an international norm through the UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (April 2004), and each country makes fulfillment and punishment compulsory.
  • Any enterprise committing export control violations may be placed on the Denial List (DL), thus facing trade restrictions, its public image being tarnished, etc. and as a result its global competitiveness is feared to decrease.
    * Denial List (DL): A list of individuals and entities disqualified from trading

Main crackdown cases

Uncovering illegal exports in the form of an artillery shell plant disguised as machinery exports

Large Korean companies signed contracts for export and import with the Directorate of Defense Industries (DDI), a Myanmar government agency, and illegally exported to Myanmar artillery shell production facilities and technology in the form of a plant by disguising them as general industrial machinery, but their illegal exports were uncovered after all (164 billion won worth of exports of plant facilities with an annual production capacity of ten thousands of 6 kinds of artillery shells including high-explosive anti-tank shells for the 105mm howitzer, together with machinery and technical data).

Uncovering illegal export of raw material for nuclear, biological and chemical weapons

A person imported 25 tons of potassium bifluoride, which is used as a catalyst for uranium enrichment or for the production of chemical weapons, from China and then tried to export the same goods to a country in the Middle East, but his attempt was uncovered at the end of 2005.
As he was urged by the importer to send the goods after his export attempt was uncovered, he changed the name of the importing company in the Middle East, forged documents as if the product name were a wood preservative, and then illegally exported 15 tons from among the goods stored in a warehouse.
After the illegal export, the person piled the remaining 10 tons of goods up against the warehouse wall to make them falsely look like the total quantity of 25 tons being stored there when seen from outside.
The said goods were a raw material for ‘sarin gas’, which was used for the terrorist attack in Tokyo in March 1995.

Uncovering an illegal exporter of bullet-proof jackets, etc.

While engaging in the business of exporting strategic military goods such as military bulletproof vests and helmets, walkie-talkies, antennas, etc., the exporter illegally exported such goods to more than ten countries including Iraq and Afghanistan without the permission of Administrator of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

Uncovering illegal export of bulletproof helmets

‘A Industries’ falsely wrote down ‘B Korea Co., Ltd.’, a delivery company, as the consignor (exporting owner of goods) in the application form when applying for export approval of 100,000 bulletproof helmets worth 8.4 million US dollars (7,741.692 million won) for which the company signed an export contract with ‘Green Dream’, a Iraqi company, under DAPA’s strategic materials export approval No. ‘11-07-×××’. As a result, ‘A Industries’ obtained an export permit issued and exported such goods to the Iraqi company.

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