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North Korea 'using Berlin embassy for procurement'

North Korea 'using Berlin embassy for procurement'

North Korea has been acquiring technology for its nuclear weapons program through its Berlin embassy, according to Germany's intelligence chief.

"We discovered procurement activities taking place there, which we believe were focused on the missile program, and also to some extent on the nuclear program", Maassen said.

Massen said that German authorities suspect portions of Pyongyang's weapons program were "acquired through shadow buyers or shadow markets overseas, which they then bought in Germany".

Comments released by NDR ahead of the broadcast showed Mr Maassen said German authorities prevented such activities when they found them but he added: "We can't guarantee that we can detect and prevent this in all cases".

The spy chief said the goods North Korea acquired were so-called "dual use", meaning they had civilian and military uses. However, Deutsche Welle reported that a North Korea diplomat tried to obtain a "gas-monitor" in 2014. The United Nations and the United States have hit North Korea with burdensome economic sanctions aimed at crippling their weapons programs.

No one from the North Korean embassy in Berlin was available to comment on the latest claims.

The German accusations come after the publication on Friday of a United Nations report which says North Korea is flouting sanctions by exporting coal, iron, steel and other banned commodities, earning almost $200 million in revenue a year ago.

Last year North Korea conducted a number of ballistic missile tests including launching three long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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