North Korea says it wants sports equipment, not missiles

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North Korean athletes prepare to take part in the 2017 Asian Winter Games in Japan.

North Korean athletes prepare to take part in the 2017 Asian Winter Games in Japan. (Reuters)

North Korea complained in newly unearthed letters that U.S.-led sanctions were depriving it's starving, suffering populace of essential aid and materials — such as ski equipment.

A diplomat from the Hermit Kingdom complained about athletes being unable to buy sporting gear in letters that argued for a reduction in sanctions, imploring sports federations to support North Korea with the plea: "sports materials can't help build missiles."

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Reuters obtained the letters from a North Korean diplomat stationed in Geneva. The letters, sent to Switzerland based World Archery Federation and the International Ski Federation and Germany-based International Shooting Sport Federation, urged the three sporting federations to support the country’s request to purchase the sports equipment.

North Korea has had nine rounds of sanctions imposed on it by the United Nations Security Council since 2006 due to the unlawful testing of nuclear weapons and multiple launches of inter-continental missiles.

President Trump on Thursday ordered additional pressures, signing an executive order targeting North Korea’s trading partners and companies doing business with Pyongyang. Trump said the order specifically enhanced the Treasury Department’s authority to target those conducting significant trade with the regime, including giving the U.S. government the ability to sanction foreign banks.

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Ri Hak Chol, the DPRK’s Ski Association president, wrote a letter to the International Olympic Committee complaining the federations would not provide the country with the needed sports materials. Chol blamed “stifling maneuvers and bulldozing coming from the U.S. which brandishes the stick of sanction against those who are not following it.”

“This association has sent several letters of purchase intention to more than 20 ski equipment production companies and sales agencies including [Atomic], Blizzard, Fischer, in June and July and made its effort to purchase the equipments,” the letter said. “But unfortunately, those ski equipment companies and sales agents rejected or have not responded to its request.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe walks between U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at a lunch during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RC131390FF40

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, right, said he is not sure what the U.S. response would be if North Korea tested a hydrogen bomb. (Reuters)

Chol wrote the rogue regime requested “positive cooperation from the FIS to enable this association to purchase the required ski equipments in compliance with Olympic ideals and its mission to promote worldwide ski sports.”

The FIS and the IOC did not immediately reply to North Korea’s complaint.

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Last week, Chang Ung, the DPRK’s IOC member, said February’s winter Olympic games, being held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, would not be affected by the crisis occurring on the Korean peninsula and said he hoped the country could send some athletes to perform in the games.

Ung said North Korean athletes may participate in short track speed skating, figure skating and maybe Nordic skiing.

North Korea’s Archery Association also wrote a letter grumbling that their request to buy materials from archery supply companies, including one in Lancaster, Pa., went unanswered. The association sought the materials for the 2018 Asian Games being hosted in Indonesia.

“However, under the pressure of the United States, they are still keeping dumb,” the letter said.

The North Korean Shooting Association also said it wrote to companies looking to buy materials for the Asian Games.

“If international sports organizations turn a blind eye to such behavior, they will leave a disgraceful mark in the world history of sports,” the letter warned.

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