North Korea aiding Syria’s chemical weapons program

A U.N. chemical weapons expert, wearing a gas mask, holds a plastic bag containing samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria August 29, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abdullah/File Photo

Experts from the United Nations said that North Korea violated U.N. sanctions by sending items used in the ballistic missile and chemical weapons programs in Syria, along with missile technicians.

In an unpublished 200-page report, the U.N. documented at least 40 previously unreported shipments from North Korea to Syria between 2012 and 2017. The shipments included banned ballistic missile parts and other materials which can be used for both civilian and military purposes. U.N. suspects that these materials are being used by Syria to make chemical weapons, which are being used against its own people.

The report also noted that there are North Korean missile specialists that have been seen at Syria’s chemical weapons manufacturing centers and missile facilities. Syria denied this report, saying that the only North Koreans present in Syria were sports coaches and athletes.

Aside from assisting Syria in the manufacturing of banned chemical weapons, the U.N. report also revealed that North Korea has also been providing Myanmar with a wide range of more conventional weaponry, including rocket launchers, air defense missiles, as well as ballistic missile systems.

Despite sanctions on oil and gas placed by the U.N. on North Korea, the prohibited transactions had reportedly earned the Hermit Kingdom nearly $200 million in just nine months last year.

The U.N. report also laid out the details of how North Korea is able to evade international sanctions by employing a complex web of shell companies and a network of sympathetic individuals in foreign countries that provide access to financing.

Five of the alleged shipments made from North Korea to Syria were made through a Chinese trading firm named Cheng Tong Trading Co Ltd. The shipments included acid-resistant tiles of a quantity that could cover a large-scale industrial plant.

China responded to the report, saying there is no evidence that links the trading company with any North Korean entities that are in violation of the U.N. resolutions.