U.N. Links North Korea to Syria’s Chemical Weapons Program
UNITED NATIONS — North Korea has been shipping supplies to the Syrian government that could be used in the production of chemical weapons, United Nations experts contend.
The evidence of a North Korean connection comes as the United States and other countries have accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons on civilians, including recent attacks on civilians in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta using what appears to have been chlorine gas.
The supplies from North Korea include acid-resistant tiles, valves and thermometers, according to a report by U.N. investigators. North Korean missile technicians have also been spotted working at known chemical weapons and missile facilities inside Syria, according to the report, which was written by a panel of experts who looked at North Korea’s compliance with U.N. sanctions.
The report highlights the potential danger posed by any such trade between Syria and North Korea, which could allow Syria to maintain its chemical weapons while also providing North Korea with cash for its nuclear and missile programs.
The possible chemical weapons components were part of at least 40 previously unreported shipments by North Korea to Syria between 2012 and 2017 of prohibited ballistic missile parts and materials that could be used for both military and civilian purposes, according to the report, which has not been publicly released but which was reviewed by The New York Times.
Neither the report’s authors nor members of the U.N. Security Council who have seen it would comment, and neither would the U.S. mission to the international agency.
It is unclear when, or even whether, the report will be released.
“I don’t know about its publication date, if any,” Stéphane Dujarric, a U.N. spokesman, told reporters Tuesday in response to queries. Asked to comment on the report, he said, “I think the overarching message is that all member states have a duty and responsibility to abide by the sanctions that are in place.”
The eight experts who make up the panel all come from different countries and possess specific expertise in areas such as weapons of mass destruction, maritime transport and customs controls. Since 2010, the panel has had a mandate from the Security Council to investigate possible sanctions violations by North Korea and present its findings in an annual report.
Though experts who viewed the report said the evidence it cited did not prove definitively that there was current, continuing collaboration between North Korea and Syria on chemical weapons, they said it did provide the most detailed account to date of efforts to circumvent sanctions intended to curtail the military advancement of both countries.
The report, which is more than 200 pages long, includes copies of contracts between North Korean and Syrian companies as well as bills of lading indicating the types of materials shipped. Much information was provided by unidentified U.N. member states.
The military-related cooperation, if confirmed, indicates major shortcomings in the international effort to isolate both countries. The shipments would have eluded detection even though both nations are subject to highly restrictive sanctions, and are under the intense scrutiny of U.S. and other spy services.
North Korea’s relationship with Syria takes up one section of the report, which also documents the many ways the government of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has tried to circumvent sanctions. It describes how North Korea uses a complex web of shell companies and sympathetic foreign citizens to gain access to international financing, employs sophisticated cyber operations to steal military secrets and enlists its own diplomats in smuggling operations.
该报告的其中一个部分专门讲述朝鲜与叙利亚的关系，报告还记录了朝鲜领导人金正恩(Kim Jong Un)的政府试图绕过制裁的许多方式。它陈述了朝鲜如何利用复杂的空壳公司网络和同情朝鲜的外国公民获取国际融资，利用复杂的网络操作窃取军事机密，并让自己的外交官参与走私活动。
The sanctions, it says, have yet to be matched “by the requisite political will, international coordination, prioritization and resource allocation necessary to drive effective implementation.”