Could the increase in opium production (which is turned later into heroin and sold on the streets) be a contributing factor for the CIA‘s interest in North Korea?
— BRIAN FRASER (@bfraser747) May 4, 2017
Mint Press News Reports:
While government-sanctioned opium production took a hit after Kim Jong-un assumed power in 2011, things have changed drastically in recent months, largely due to Chinese sanctions that were announced in mid-February. The sanctions, created in response to a North Korean ballistic missile test, led China to refuse imports of North Korean coal. Coal represents 40 percent of North Korea’s exports to China.
That drastic hit to the North Korean economy has apparently forced Kim Jong-un’s hand, as opium production has once again picked up. Kang Cheol-hwan, a North Korean defector and president of the North Korea Strategy Center, told the Yonhap News Agency that “the North is cultivating poppy fields again for drug smuggling as a way to secure funds to manage its regime.”
While North Korea’s opium production is small compared to that of post-invasion Afghanistan, it is still significant. North Korea, according to the Chosun Ilbo, produces around 40 tons of opium annually — comparable to Pakistan’s opium industry. Most of its opium is smuggled into and sold in China and cannot be targeted by sanctions, since it is hard to trace on the black market.
Some have speculated that North Korea’s return to opium production has caught the attention of the CIA, as the intelligence agency has a history of involving itself in opium trade and drug-running in general, as evidenced by its well-documented habit of managing drug supplies from Latin America to Asia.
— MintPress News (@MintPressNews) May 8, 2017