WINDHOEK, Namibia — Near the southern tip of Africa, 8,000 miles from Pyongyang, this capital city is an unlikely testament to North Korean industry.
There’s the futuristic national history museum, the sleek presidential palace, the sprawling defense headquarters and the shadowy munitions factory. They were built — or are still being constructed — by North Korea, for a profit.
For years, North Korea has used African nations like this one as financial lifelines, building infrastructure and selling weapons and other military equipment as sanctions mounted against its authoritarian regime. Although China is by far North Korea’s largest trading partner, the smaller African revenue streams have helped support the impoverished Hermit Kingdom, even as its leaders develop an ambitious nuclear weapons program in defiance of the international community.
Those ambitions led last week to the launch of the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson subsequently warned that any nation with military or economic ties to North Korea “is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime,” and the Trump administration threatened a cutoff in trade with countries that were doing business with the pariah nation.