Pyongyang angry after ski lift equipment deal is blocked

AFP-JIJI

North Korea expressed anger Saturday after Switzerland blocked a deal to supply key equipment for a ski resort that has been under construction as one of leader Kim Jong Un’s pet projects.

The Masik ski resort has been heavily promoted by the North’s propaganda machine since Kim visited it in June.

Kim wants the facility — with 110 km of multilevel ski runs, a hotel, heliport and cable cars — completed by the end of the year.

The North’s Skiers Association said Saturday that ski courses have already been built with a hotel and other facilities nearing completion.

But “some countries” are blocking the import of “cableway equipment” for the resort, the association said in a statement.

“This is a wanton violation of the U.N. Charter clarifying that sanctions should not impose sufferings and damage on the peaceful existence and activities of mankind and the people in relevant countries,” it said.

Swiss company Bartholet Maschinenbau had reportedly all but agreed to sell mechanical chair lifts and cable cars to Pyongyang.

But Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said Monday it had blocked the deal, reportedly worth 7 million Swiss francs ($7.6 million), after the Swiss government expanded its sanctions in July.

SECO said selling supplies to the ski project fell under the expanded sanctions on luxury exports to the nuclear armed country.