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U.N. Panel: North Korea Deceived China on Missile Transporters

North Korea knowingly violated an export arrangement with a Chinese firm when it converted large vehicles intended for industrial transportation use into mobile long-range missile launchers, a U.N. Security Council committee concluded in a report released this week.

The transporter-launchers were glimpsed at an an armed forces parade in Pyongyang in spring 2012. International observers noted that the make of the vehicles suggested they had been imported from China, potentially in violation of international sanctions targeting North Korea's ballistic missile program, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

The Security Council expert panel with oversight on sanctions against the North in its yearly report said the Chinese firm Hubei Sanjiang Space Wanshan Special Vehicle Corporation had sold six timber transportation vehicles to Pyongyang in 2011. Beijing informed the committee that "these vehicles had a substantive distinction from transporter erector launchers or missile transporters and could not be used for transporting or launching missiles," the report reads.

In its purchasing agreement, the North said the vehicles would be used to move timber inside the country.

While the converted missile launchers show Pyongyang occasionally manages to breach U.N. sanctions, the expert panel concluded that overall the economic penalties were having an impact in forestalling North Korea's nuclear arms development. "The imposition of financial sanctions and the bans on the trade in weapons has choked off significant funding which would have been channeled into its prohibited activities," the report stated.

Meanwhile, the Wednesday summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Park Geun-hye is expected to deal heavily with the North Korean nuclear logjam, Agence France-Presse reported on Tuesday.

Park said her main goal in the meeting would be to firm up Seoul-Beijing collaboration on "attaining the goal of North Korea's denuclearization."

Some in South Korea believe that the time is right to push China to adopt a harsher line toward its wayward ally. Beijing is seen to still be frustrated with Pyongyang for violating its repeated calls to cease testing long-range rockets and nuclear devices. "These days China's position is gradually moving closer to the position of the U.S. and South Korea," Korea National Diplomatic Academy professor Choi Woo-seon said in an interview.

"China tended to emphasize dialogue rather than pressure in the past, but I think that Chinese leaders began to realize it's necessary to put some strong pressure on North Korea," according to Choi.

Elsewhere, the U.S. State Department indicated that Secretary of State John Kerry is unlikely to hold two-way talks with his North Korean counterpart on the margins of a Southeast Asia security meeting that both men are slated to attend next week in Brunei, Yonhap reported.

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