What if I stole something from North Korea?

And I brought it back here to the US, and the government knows I stole it. Since they are tops in almost any list of rogue nations, do I have any legal obligation to return the item or be punished or do most countries just toss a collective “fuck off” or North Korean demands? (I’m assuming we don’t have an extradition treaty with them)

The broader issue I’m trying to figure out is if the US is currently hostile to a foreign nation, would I be punished for breaking that nation’s laws? This is of course assuming there isn’t any indirect political pressure to turn me over or punish me

If I were in Cuba (legally) and stole a large sum of money from Castro himself, would I have to pay it back (or do jail time)?

What if I snuck into North Korea and shot a high ranking NK military official and escaped?

What if I went to Iran and blew up a supposed nuclear plant?

The US has no extradition treaty with North Korea so presumably even if the North Korean’s were to formally ask for you to be handed over (seems unlikely), they would ignore the request.

Same goes for Iran, but bizarrely looks like the US does have one with Cuba?

Gee, I don’t know…

What would happen if you assaulted a fugitive murderer?

What would happen if you stole some thing Bernie Madoff legitimately owned (had not acquired with his stolen money)?

I tend to think that a crime is a crime…regardless of the guilt or innocence of the victim of the crime. The person in NK that you steal from has rights as an individual, whether the NK gov’t recognizes them or not.

The people who you harm while blowing up a reactor in Iran have rights…and I tend to think that the international community would recognize the rights of indiviudals even if the gov’t isn’t playing ball.

Are you thinking of living out the fantasies expressed in the “Soldier of Fortune” magazines/books/video games?

ETA: Of course all this assumes you are acting alone, and without the backing of a major country…who would then take whatever fallout may come from your actions since it “ordered” you to do it.

That’s not to say there would be zero repercussions. Who do you think you are, Gavrilo Princip? If Kim Jong Il and Big Daddy China raised enough of a stink, it could become a political Incident that begs for remediation.

I’m not suggesting that you would be handed over, but you would have caused your country some level of angst.

Er, what?

I think OP was asking about the legal consequences of these actions, and what recourse, if any, these countries would have.

He wasn’t asking about the ethics involved.

Generally extradition requires a treaty to be in place, under USC 18, §3184. There does appear to be one exception to this: if your crime is an act of violence against a U.S. citizen, you can be extradited to that country to face justice. None of your examples would fit this criterion, though, unless there happened to be a U.S. citizen visiting the nuclear plant when you blew it up.

ETA: Oh, and any extradition that isn’t specifically allowed by treaty or statute is pretty much out, according to the Supreme Court: Valentine v. United States. So the U.S. couldn’t legally extradite you in any of the above situations (assuming you didn’t kill any Americans.)

It depends. If you stole the USS Pueblo you’d probably get a medal.

I believe that under both US and international law the Pueblo would be US property.

North Korea has nothing [del]worth stealing[/del].

What about US federal laws govering stuff from North Korea getting brought into the US–are there any such laws?

You can steal all the fighter jets you can get away with:

I brought stuff back into the US from North Korea. They guys at customs/immigration didn’t care at all that I had been to North Korea.

Fear Itself: That’s interesting. When Viktor Belenko defected from the USSR with his MiG-25, we eventually returned the craft in thirty crates. Of course, he defected in 1976, so perhaps we were a bit more willing to play somewhat nicer with the Reds by that point.

As mentioned upthread, the US government would not be thrilled with people creating international incidents. But more to the point, even disallowing respecting a foreign nation’s laws, doesn’t the US have it’s own laws against various acts of brigandage/ piracy, etc. even if they take place out of country?

Re. Cuba: my wild-a**ed-guess, but I think after a series of notorious airplane hijackings to Cuba, the US negotiated the extradition treaty with Cuba, probably in exchange for not allowing Cuban expatriots living in the US to carry out terrorist actions against Cuba.

IIRC, the MiG-15 wasn’t returned because the US offered to return the MiG to the Soviets, not to North Korea. The Russians declined because accepting it could be viewed as admitting to direct Soviet involvement in Korea, which was something they were denying at the time.

You should probably also take into account the “expiration date” of whichever crime you comitted. The US and North Korea currently don’t have an extradition treaty. In 20 years, though, that might have changed - but your murder charge will still be on the book.

Don’t current US terror laws enable you to be prosecuted in the US for acts of terrorism carried out overseas ? That Iranian power plant bombing would definitely be covered by that.

Not that the US has a particularly good record when it comes to prosecuting people who carry acts of terror against the their enemies.

I would be just a little bit nervous, all things considered.
North Korean abductions of Japanese
North Korean abductions of South Koreans
Megumi Yokota

Chilling stuff, [cc]. Thanks for sharing the links.