North Korea has received more than £4 million (US$5 million) British taxpayer funds over six years despite the communist regime’s threat to spark a nuclear war, it has emerged.
Tensions with the country, ruled by Kim Jong-un, have escalated in the last few days after North Korea said it would conduct weekly missile tests and warned that an “all-out war” would result from and US military action against it.
Official figures show the UK sent £750,000-worth of aid to the pariah state in 2015 alone – a 167 percent increase on the previous year, according to the Daily Mail.
The UK sent £32,000 in aid to North Korea in 2009, but spending increased under the coalition government, peaking at just over £1 million in 2013.
The cash, which forms part of the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7 percent of its GDP on foreign aid, has reportedly been spent on providing English lessons for regime officials, workshops for entrepreneurs and physiotherapy equipment.
The prospect of taxpayers’ money being sent to a country that has threatened war with the West is prompting fury, with some calling for a cease of all aid to the hermit state until North Korea stops threatening the international community.
Sir Gerald Howarth, a former Tory defense minister, called the aid handouts “absurd.”
“There are some very poor people there because of the regime’s actions, but the country is a communist basket case,” he told the Daily Mail.
“They are trying to build a nuclear missile to hit the United States, they are destabilizing the entire region. Why on Earth are we giving them aid?”
The Foreign Office, responsible for most of the spending, told the newspaper it has no plans to ax the aid program. It argued that aid is not given directly to the North Korean regime and that the fund could improve relations.
“The projects we carry out in North Korea are part of our policy of critical engagement, and are used to promote British values and demonstrate to the North Korean people that engaging with the UK and the outside world is an opportunity rather than a threat.
“We conduct a range of small-scale project work, many of which help to improve the lives of the most vulnerable members of society.”