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China Seen as Principal Accomplice in North Korean Arms Violations: Report

A United Nations investigation into North Korean sanctions violations has turned up evidence of Chinese entanglement in over 50 percent of the alleged breaches of international rules against luxury product sales and weapons trading with Pyongyang, Agence France-Presse reported on Friday (see GSN, June 21).

The U.N. Security Council panel with oversight of the application of North Korean sanctions found 38 incidents in which the North either received or sold prohibited items. In 21 of those incidents there was Chinese involvement, anonymous sources informed the Japanese Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

"The findings reflect in the end China has helped North Korea expand its weaponry and military threats," the newspaper concluded (see GSN, June 14).

International sanctions passed in 2006 and 2009 following North Korea's two atomic tests are aimed at undermining the country's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons development.

Beijing is Pyongyang's lead ally and economic benefactor. Chinese companies or shipping hubs served as tools of transfer in most of the studied sanctions violations. There were two instances in which Chinese involvement was seen in North Korea's sale or purchase of ballistic missile components and other materials for unconventional weapons, according to Asahi

Five years ago, Pyongyang attempted to transport to Syria through the Chinese shipping hub at Dalian prohibited metal coverings and electronic components intended production of ballistic missiles, the newspaper reported.

Notably, the U.N. investigators did not include in their count North Korea's reported August 2011 acquisition of four large transporter vehicles from a Chinese state-affiliated company. The vehicles are strongly suspected to have been repurposed as mobile ballistic missile launchers; they were displayed in an April military parade (Agence France-Presse/Jakarta Globe, June 22).

Separately, the U.S. and South Korean militaries on Friday staged a large-scale artillery exercise that showed off their coordinated fighting tactics. The 2,000-person exercise was aimed at discouraging the North from mounting any new provocations, the Associated Press reported.

U.S. attack helicopters, armored vehicles and fighter aircraft participated in the drill, according to a South Korean Defense Ministry statement.

The United States and its regional allies are concerned North Korea could make good on any one of the numerous threats it has issued in recent months. Pyongyang has warned it could carry out another long-range rocket launch and is broadly seen to have completed or be close to finished with technical preparations for a third nuclear test (Associated Press/Time, June 21).

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