Two North Korean shipments to a Syrian government agency responsible for the country’s chemical weapons program were intercepted in the past six months, Reuters reports, citing a confidential United Nations report on North Korea sanctions violations.
The report by a panel of independent UN experts, which was submitted to the UN Security Council earlier this month, gave no details on when or where the interdictions occurred or what the shipments contained, the news agency said.
“The panel is investigating reported prohibited chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms cooperation between Syria and the DPRK (North Korea),” the experts were said to have written in a 37-page report.
“Two member states interdicted shipments destined for Syria. Another Member state informed the panel that it had reasons to believe that the goods were part of a KOMID contract with Syria,” the experts wrote.
KOMID is the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation. It was blacklisted by the UN Security Council in 2009 and described as Pyongyang’s key arms dealer and exporter of equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons.
In March 2016 the council also blacklisted two KOMID representatives in Syria.
“The consignees were Syrian entities designated by the European Union and the United States as front companies for Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC), a Syrian entity identified by the Panel as cooperating with KOMID in previous prohibited item transfers,” the UN experts wrote.
SSRC has overseen the country’s chemical weapons program since the 1970s.
The UN experts said activities between Syria and North Korea they were investigating included cooperation on Syrian Scud missile programs and maintenance and repair of Syrian surface-to-air missiles air defense systems.
The experts said they were also investigating the use of the VX nerve agent in Malaysia to kill the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un in February.
Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013 under a deal brokered by Russia and the United States.
However, diplomats and weapons inspectors suspect Syria may have secretly maintained or developed a new chemical weapons capability.
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