Malaysia says aware of N.Korean firms linked to arms trade

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 28): Malaysia's authorities were aware of two North Korea-linked companies operating an arms business in the Southeast Asian country and they were being "struck off", the police chief said on Tuesday, following a Reuters report that identified the firms.

Reuters reported on Monday that North Korean intelligence ran an arms operation out of Malaysia called Glocom, and said two companies involved were International Global System and International Golden Services.

Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement that both firms were in the process of being "struck off".

"We have also taken all necessary actions to comply with international regulations with regards to related sanctions," he added.

Glocom, according to a United Nations report, sold battlefield radio equipment in violation of international sanctions.

No company called Glocom exists in Malaysia, but its website was registered in 2009 by International Global System Sdn Bhd, and a similarly-named company called International Golden Services Sdn Bhd was listed on Glocom's website as a contact.

The police confirmed these details.

Khalid said International Global System Sdn Bhd was registered in 2005 as a multimedia, electronics and general trading firm.

International Golden Services Sdn Bhd was registered in 2012 as an information technology and telecommunication technology products firm, he said.

In its unreleased report, seen by Reuters, the U.N. said it had asked Malaysia if it intended to freeze the assets of both companies, and expel the North Koreans behind them.

Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world which had strong ties with North Korea, but relations have begun to sour after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother was murdered at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport on Feb 13.

Kim Jong Nam was killed at a Malaysian airport by assassins using VX nerve agent, a chemical capable of killing in minutes and classified by the U.N. as a weapon of mass destruction.

South Korean's National Intelligence Service (NIS) believes suspects wanted for the murder of Kim Jong Nam included several agents who worked for North Korea's foreign and security ministries, according to lawmakers in Seoul.

The NIS also said on Monday five senior officials of the State Security Ministry, the North Korean "bowibu", or secret police, were executed with anti-aircraft guns for "insubordination".

It is unclear if the execution of the security ministry officials was related to the assassination of Kim Jong Nam.

Earlier this month, North Korea dismissed the head of the bowibu. A high-profile defector said if this was true, it would be another sign of a "crack in the elite" in Pyongyang.