- The Washington Times - Monday, April 16, 2012

China likely provided the mobile long-range missile launcher that North Korea displayed in a military parade over the weekend, which would put Beijing in violation of U.N. sanctions, analysts say.

The 16-wheeled vehicle, known as a transporter-erector-launcher (TEL), is apparently based on a Chinese design, said Ted Parsons of IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly.

The Chinese and North Korean versions of the TEL “have the same windscreen design, the same four windscreen wiper configuration, the same door and handle design, a very similar grill area, almost the same front bumper lighting configuration, and the same design for the cabin steps,” Mr. Parsons noted.

North Korea’s TEL was featured in a massive parade in Pyongyang over the weekend, one of a series of events held to commemorate the centenary of the communist regime’s founder, Kim Il-sung.

“If confirmed, China’s involvement in providing this erector-launcher to North Korea would put it in breach of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874,” said James Hardy, the Asia Pacific editor for Jane’s Defense Weekly.

The resolution bans countries from supplying North Korea with “any arms or related materiel, or providing financial transactions, technical training, services, or assistance related to such arms.”

The supply of such a vehicle to North Korea in defiance of international sanctions “would require approval from the highest levels of the Chinese government and the People’s Liberation Army,” said Mr. Parsons.

That has serious implications for the six-party talks on curbing North Korea’s nuclear program - the only forum for discussions between Pyongyang and the international community.

China, which hosts the talks, has been consulting with the U.S., Russia, Japan and South Korea to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for concessions like food aid or a suspension of sanctions.

If China has been secretly aiding the North Korean ballistic missile program, that “could fatally undermine the six-party talks [because they are] built on the premise that there is a unanimous desire to prevent the North from developing a nuclear capability,” Mr. Hardy said.

• Shaun Waterman can be reached at 123@example.com.

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