- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A report by the U.N. Security Council made public Wednesday states that North Korea is linked to covert shipments of banned nuclear technology and missiles to Iran, Syria and Burma.

A panel of experts produced the report after monitoring compliance with U.N. sanctions imposed on Pyongyang after its nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

Based on International Atomic Energy Agency and government assessments, the report concludes that North Korea “has continued to provide missiles, components, and technology to certain countries including Iran and Syria since the imposition of these measures.”

In Burma, suspicious nuclear activities were linked to North Korea’s Namchongang Trading and the arrests in Japan of three people who tried to illegally export a magnetometer to Burma through Malaysia.

Magnetometers can be used to produce ring magnets, a key element of in centrifuges that are the basis of nuclear arms programs in Iran and Pakistan.

That transfer was linked to a North Korean company involved in “illicit procurement” for nuclear and military programs, the report states.

North Korea employed an array of techniques to hide the financial transactions involved in the banned export, including the use of Chinese banks, shell companies, information money transfers, cash couriers and barter, the report says.

“Due to the deteriorating conditions of the DPRK’s maritime fleet and the enhanced vigilance on DPRK-owned and/or DPRK-flagged vessels since the adoption of Resolution 1874 (2009), the DPRK appears now to rely increasingly on foreign-owned and -flagged ships to carry all or part of its illicit cargo,” the report says.

DPRK is the acronym for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The DPRK is also believed to use air cargo to handle high valued and sensitive arms exports,” the report says, noting that some cargo shipments flew nonstop from North Korea to Iran.

According to U.S. officials, China had blocked release of the report for six months to protect its communist ally.

The report bolsters U.S. intelligence assessments that North Korea is one of the most active arms proliferators.

U.S. officials also privately have accused China of facilitating North Korean arms and technology transfers.

Wang Baodong, a Chinese Embassy press spokesman, denied that China was helping North Korea or not enforcing sanctions against Pyongyang.

“China has been faithfully and accurately implementing all the U.N. resolutions relating to North Korean nuclear issues, and has established a complete and mature mechanism on carrying out U.N. resolutions,” Mr. Wang said. “We will continue to fulfill our international obligations in a responsible way.”

• Bill Gertz can be reached at bgertz@washingtontimes.com.

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