UN Suspects North Korea Shipped Weapons to Syria

Material going through China: UN report
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2012 8:35 AM CDT
UN Suspects North Korea Shipped Weapons to Syria
In this April 16, 2012 photo, North Korean dancers perform in front of pictures of late leaders Kim Il Sung, left, and Kim Jong Il, right.   (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

UN officials fear North Korea may be involved in arms deals with Syria and Burma. Pyongyang "continues actively to defy" UN sanctions, says an unpublished panel report viewed by Reuters that cites "illicit sales of arms and related materiel and luxury goods." According to the report, in 2010 France discovered a shipment of supplies used for artillery and rockets headed to Syria from North Korea; in 2007, material usable in ballistic missiles was sent from North Korea through China, bound for Syria.

It's not clear that such shipments have continued, but the panel says that would be no surprise given North Korea's history. Meanwhile, the panel is worried that Burma and North Korea may be engaged in "prohibited cooperation." Burma's parliament's speaker recently said he'd signed a memorandum of understanding in 2008 with Pyongyang, noting that "their armed forces are quite strong, so we just agreed to cooperate with them if necessary." That memorandum could violate sanctions against North Korea buying and selling weapons technology. Still, there was no indication Pyongyang had been importing materials to aid in uranium enrichment, the panel said—though the country may have done so "undetected." (More United Nations stories.)

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