Australian man arrested for allegedly acting as North Korean agent

The man has been charged with brokering sales of weapons of mass destruction

Australian man arrested for allegedly acting as North Korean agent

An image of the operation supplied by the Australian Federal Police

A man has been arrested in Australia on suspicion of being an agent for North Korea.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) say the 59-year-old Sydney man has been detained for allegedly acting as an economic agent for the country.

It says this in breach of both United Nations and Australian sanctions.

Police say the man is a naturalised Australian citizen of Korean descent

He has also been charged with brokering sales and discussing the supply of weapons of mass destruction.

An image of the operation supplied by the Australian Federal Police

This is the first time a person has been charged under the Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act 1995 (Cth) in Australia.

The AFP says it believes the man was generating income for the North Korean government.

Specifically, it will be alleged in court the man was involved in brokering the sale of missiles and missile componentry and expertise from North Korea to other international entities - and attempting to transfer coal from North Korea to entities in Indonesia and Vietnam.

The AFP will allege the missile componentry identified could contribute to the delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction.

The man was arrested on Saturday December 16th after officers conducted searches under warrant in Sydney.

If convicted, he could face a maximum of 10 years' imprisonment.

An image of the operation supplied by the Australian Federal Police

AFP assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan said his actions were investigated over a period of months.

"This case is like nothing we have ever seen on Australian soil. This is the first time charges have been laid under the Commonwealth Weapons of Mass Destruction Act in Australia, and the first time we have laid charges specifically for alleged breaches of UN sanctions against North Korea.

"The Australian public should be assured that police have acted to ensure no direct risk to our community. The AFP endeavours to support international efforts to maintain peace and security."