- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 17, 2006

SEOUL (AP) — Is the aluminum being used for missile tubes or bicycles? Will the chemical go into rocket fuel or pesticide?

These are the types of questions countries might be asking as they try to obey a new U.N. resolution that orders them to crack down on companies supplying North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

Some analysts say enforcing the resolution passed Saturday will be tough because many materials used to make weapons also are found in everyday household goods. And the North Korean companies dealing the goods are often shadowy front companies that are hard to track because of their murky ownership and constantly changing names.

Paik Hak-soon, North Korea specialist at Sejong Institute, a think tank outside Seoul, said the U.N. resolution that aims to punish the North for its nuclear test is mainly political.

“You will have huge problems in terms of how to interpret enforcement and under what categories the items should be included,” Mr. Paik said. “There will be serious problems in selecting what items to pursue and to what extent.”

The U.S.-initiated resolution, passed unanimously by the U.N. Security Council, tells countries to freeze the funds or assets of people or companies that are providing support to the reclusive North’s programs for making ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

Pak Gil Yon, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations, walked out after the resolution was passed, accusing the Security Council of “gangsterlike” action.

Last year, the Treasury Department named eight North Korean companies whose assets should be frozen because Treasury said they were dealing in weapons of mass destruction. They ncluded the Pyongyang firms Hesong Trading, Tosong Technology Trading and Korea Complex Equipment Import.

Americans were forbidden from doing business with the eight companies, and U.S. officials said bank accounts or financial assets belonging to them would be frozen in U.S. banks.

Last year, the U.S. said Banco Delta Asia SARL — a bank in the Chinese territory of Macau — was being used by North Korea for money laundering. The U.S. banned transactions between the bank and American financial institutions.

The new U.N. resolution does not apply to assets involving foodstuffs, medicine and fees for rent, taxes, insurance and other similar services.

Trying to figure out why the North Koreans are buying certain goods will be difficult, said Bertil Lintner, author of the book “Great Leader, Dear Leader: Demystifying North Korea Under the Kim Clan.”

The North Koreans are masters at buying dual-purpose goods for their weapons programs, said Mr. Lintner, who has tracked the North’s network of companies in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand.

“Almost any kind of goods for the military can be used for civilian purposes,” he said.

Certain types of pesticide can be used for rocket fuel or to seal swimming pools, he said. and aluminum casing can be used for missile tubes or for bicycles.

“They don’t get everything in the same place. They buy it from different places,” he said. “It’s only when you put it all together that you can get a complete picture of what they’re using it for.”

Some of the most active North Korean businessmen work out of Pyongyang’s embassies, Mr. Lintner said. The embassies receive little funding from the government and must fend for themselves financially. They are also under pressure to send money home to the cash-strapped communist leadership.

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