North Korea Providing materials to Syria chemical weapons factory
North Korea has been sending equipment to Syria that could be used to make chemical weapons, a UN report says.
Some 40 previously unreported shipments were made between 2012 and 2017, the report found. Materials included acid-resistant tiles, valves and pipes.
The report – yet to be released – said N Korean missile specialists had been seen at Syrian weapon-making centres.
A second daily pause in fighting in the Eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus is due to begin, to allow in relief aid.
Aid was unable to enter the rebel-held region on Tuesday – the first of the five-hour “pauses” in fighting – after clashes continued.
Activists blamed government air and artillery strikes, while Russia said rebels had shelled a “humanitarian corridor” meant to let civilians leave.
According to the confidential report North Korea sent illicit supplies to Syria which included high-heat, acid-resistant tiles, corrosion-resistant valves and thermometers. The tiles are said to be used to construct facilities where chemical weapons are produced.
The Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) – a Syrian government agency – is alleged to have paid North Korea via a number of front companies.
The report was compiled by the UN Panel of Experts, which assesses North Korea’s compliance with UN resolutions.
It said that two UN member states had intercepted shipments bound for Syria, and that the goods were suspected to be supplied by North Korea’s main arms exporter as part of a contract with front companies representing the SSRC.
The Syrian government is reported to have told the UN panel that the only North Koreans present in Syria are sports coaches and athletes.
Syria signed up to the Chemical Weapons Convention and agreed to have its declared chemical weapons stock destroyed in 2013 after a Sarin nerve agent attack killed hundreds of people in rebel-held suburbs of Damascus.
It has been accused of repeatedly using banned chemical weapons in the civil war since then.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) concluded that Sarin was used in Khan Sheikhoun, a rebel-held town in Idlib province, last April in an incident that killed more than 80 people. OPCW and UN investigators are confident the Syrian air force was to blame.
Experts say that North Korea has long offered military supplies and weapons know-how around the world in exchange for cash
.The UN report is said to highlight its efforts to illicitly trade with dozens of countries and groups in the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America.
Syria and North Korea have decades-old military ties.