The United States on Wednesday said it had asked China about claims that it has assisted North Korea's missile development efforts, which would be illegal under U.N. Security Council resolutions, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, June 13).
Four Chinese-manufactured transporter-erector vehicles were shipped last August from Shanghai to North Korea, according to a Wednesday report by the Japanese Asahi Shimbun newspaper. This April, transporters very similar to the kind manufactured in China were spotted in modified form carrying large missiles in a military parade in Pyongyang.
The United States and others are concerned that North Korea's apparently new road-mobile launch platforms will make it more difficult to detect and destroy the aspiring nuclear power's missiles.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Washington "in recent weeks" has discussed with Beijing suspicions of illegal missile collaboration with the North.
"I will say that we have raised our concerns with China about allegations that Chinese entities have assisted the D.P.R.K. missile program," Nuland said.
Shortly after the new missile launchers were spotted in April, a different State Department official said the Obama administration had taken Chinese officials "at their word" they were honoring U.N. prohibitions against all weapons dealings with North Korea. Nuland would not comment on the latest Obama administration stance on the matter.
Beijing has dismissed the allegations made in the Japanese report. "China has been strictly implementing relevant Security Council resolutions and its own laws and regulations on nonproliferation export control," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said (Shaun Tandon, Agence France-Presse/Google News, June 13).
Japan and South Korea have also brought their worries to Beijing about potential missile-related commerce between China and the North, Kyodo News reported on Thursday.
Seoul and Tokyo have requested that Beijing make certain no possible sales of mobile missile firing pads are taking place, unidentified South Korean government officials said (Kyodo News/Mainichi Daily News, June 14).