The Bush administration allowed Ethiopia to complete a secret arms purchase from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in an apparent violation of UN sanctions aimed at punishing Pyongyang's nuclear test, the New York Times reported on Sunday.
Washington allowed the arms delivery to go through in January in part because Ethiopia was in the midst of a military offensive against Islamic militia inside Somalia, a campaign that aided the U.S. policy of combating religious extremists in the Horn of Africa, the report said.
A spokesman for the State Department was quoted by the newspaper as saying that the United States was "deeply committed to upholding and enforcing UN Security Council resolutions," but declined to comment on the arms shipment.
U.S. officials said that they were still encouraging Ethiopia to wean itself from its long-standing reliance on the DPRK for cheap Soviet-era military equipment to supply its armed forces and the Ethiopian officials appeared receptive, the report said.
However, the arms deal is an example of the compromises that result from the clash of two foreign policy absolutes: the Bush administration's commitment to fighting Islamic radicalism and its effort to starve the DPRK government of money it could use to build up its nuclear weapons program, the report said.
It is not the first time that the Bush administration has made an exception for allies in their dealings with the DPRK, the report said, adding that in 2002, Spain intercepted a ship carrying Scud missiles from the DPRK to Yemen. At that time, Yemen was working with the United States to hunt members of al-Qaeda operating within its borders and, after its government protested, the United States asked that the freighter be released.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, as the administration has made counterterrorism its top foreign policy concern, the White House has sometimes shown a willingness to tolerate misconduct by allies that it might otherwise criticize, like human rights violations in Central Asia and an anti-democratic crackdown in a number of Arab countries, the report said.
The UN Security Council unanimously adopted the resolution 1718 in October last year, condemning the DPRK's nuclear test, demanding that it eliminate its nuclear weapons and nuclear programs and imposing sanctions.