- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2003

North Korea tried to buy large amounts of equipment for a uranium-weapons program in 2001 and also purchased missile-related goods from communist China, according to a CIA report.

The CIA report to Congress on arms proliferation for the period of July 2001 to December 2001 said, "Pyongyang has continued attempts to procure technology worldwide" for a nuclear-arms program.

The report, made public yesterday, also identified Russia, China and North Korea as major suppliers of chemical, biological and nuclear-arms goods and missile systems to rouge states or unstable regions.

For example, the report states that Chinese companies in 2001 supplied Pakistan with technical assistance for its short-range missiles and its medium-range Shaheen II missile.

The Chinese missile assistance contradicted China's pledge in November 2001 "not to assist, in any way, any country in the development of ballistic missiles that could be used to deliver nuclear weapons."

"In addition, firms in China have provided dual-use missile-related items, raw materials and-or assistance to several countries of proliferation concern such as Iran, North Korea and Libya," the report said.

The Bush administration has imposed economic sanctions on China three times in recent months for missile and arms sales to Pakistan and Iran.

Regarding North Korea, the report stated that Pyongyang exported "significant ballistic missile-related equipment, components, materials and technical expertise to the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa."

North Korea disclosed to U.S. officials in October that it had been secretly building a uranium-enrichment program for nuclear bombs, in violation of several agreements including a 1994 accord to freeze an earlier plutonium-based nuclear-arms program.

"The North has been seeking centrifuge-related materials in large quantities to support a uranium enrichment program," the report said of the late 2001 activity. "It also obtained equipment suitable for use in uranium feed and withdrawal systems."

Regarding missile development, the North Koreans also purchased raw materials and components for missiles, "especially through North Korean firms based in China," the report said.

North Korea also concluded a defense agreement with Russia in 2001 that will pave the way for arms sales and weapons-technology transfers to North Korea, the report said.

The report noted that North Korea has enough nuclear arms fuel for "at least one and possibly two, nuclear weapons. Spent fuel rods from a reactor also contain enough plutonium for several more weapons, the agency report said.

North Korea touched off a crisis over its nuclear arms by announcing last year that it would restart a nuclear reactor that was shut down under the 1994 agreement.

Regarding Iran, the report said that Russia and China have been supplying Tehran with nuclear-related equipment that will boost Iran's capability to build nuclear weapons.

The report said the United States "is convinced that Tehran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program" despite claims by Iran that its nuclear program is aimed at producing electricity.

On Iraq, the CIA provided new details of Baghdad's efforts to build medium-range missiles. Iraq has built two new facilities that will make solid fuel for missiles, including one site that the CIA believes is an indication that longer-range missiles are being developed.

Iraq's al Mamoun plant appears solely designed for making solid fuel used for long-range missiles, and at the same building Iraq is rebuilding a rocket motor factory, the report said.

The report also said, "Iraq probably retains a small, covert force of Scud ballistic missiles, launchers, and conventional, chemical, and biological warheads."

The Iraqis also have rebuilt chemical facilities and attempted to purchase items that have military applications by claiming the purchases are for civilian use, the report said.

Iraq also worked on biological arms in late 2001 and carried out research to improve its biological arms, the report said.

"In light of Iraq's growing industrial self-sufficiency and the likely availability of mobile or covert facilities, we are concerned that Iraq may again be producing [biological warfare] agents," the CIA said.

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