Home > Iran, North Korea > Iran, North Korea Partnering on Ballistic Missiles, U.N. Says

Iran, North Korea Partnering on Ballistic Missiles, U.N. Says

May 16, 2011

globalsecuritynewswire

(May. 16) - An Iranian Shahab 3 ballistic missile lifts off in a 2009 test. The Shahab 3's warhead appears comparable in design to a North Korean warhead unveiled last year, according to a U.N. report that says the countries seem to have exchanged ballistic missile technology (Shaiegan/Getty Images). Iran and North Korea seem to routinely be swapping ballistic missile equipment in breach of U.N. Security Council directives, a classified expert report to the international body stated on Friday (see GSN, Dec. 1, 2010).

Illegal trades of missile technology had “transshipment through a neighboring third country,” the report states. Multiple envoys told Reuters the nation in question is China.

The report by the Panel of Experts assigned to oversee adherence to U.N. sanctions levied against North Korea was sent to the Security Council on Friday and viewed by Reuters on Saturday.

The document is expected to increase apprehension over Pyongyang’s collaboration with Tehran and to bolster worries about Beijing’s willingness to implement sanctions targeting North Korea and Iran’s nuclear activities, diplomats said.

The Security Council sanctions forbid commerce in atomic and missile systems with the North.

“Prohibited ballistic missile-related items are suspected to have been transferred between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran on regular scheduled flights of Air Koryo and Iran Air,” the experts stated.

“For the shipment of cargo, like arms and related materiel, whose illicit nature would become apparent on any cursory physical inspection, (North) Korea seems to prefer chartered cargo flights,” the document says.

Chartered cargo flights typically travel “from or to air cargo hubs which lack the kind of monitoring and security to which passenger terminals and flights are now subject,” according to the report.

A number of envoys to the Security Council said Beijing was not pleased with the experts’ findings and was expected to use its position as a council veto-holder to block the report’s publication. Currently, only the 15 nations on the Security Council are permitted to view the report.

The Chinese representative on the expert panel did not give his approval to the report, envoys said.

China has a history of using its position to block publication of U.N. reports that are critical of North Korea, a longtime ally. The Chinese mission to the United Nations did not comment on the matter (Louis Charbonneau, Reuters, May 14).

“The Chinese expert refused to sign the report, under pressure from Beijing, and this raises serious issues about a panel of experts that is supposed to be free from political interference,” one high-level U.N. envoy told the New York Times (Dan Bilefsky, New York Times, May 14).

New hints of Tehran’s collaboration with the Pyongyang on missile development developed from an October 2010 military parade in which the North unveiled a new Nodong missile warhead, Reuters quoted the experts as saying (see GSN, Oct. 13, 2010). The warhead possessed “a strong design similarity with the Iranian Shahab 3 triconic warhead,” they noted.

There does not seem to be any concrete proof that Myanmar has been establishing an illicit atomic program with support from Pyongyang, the report says. The Panel of Experts in the past has addressed the suspected nuclear collaboration. In this document they did not rule out the claims and indicated “extreme caution” could be necessary to block potential proliferation activities by the two states (see GSN, April 12).

“While acknowledging the possibility that Myanmar was the end user of this dual-use equipment, several experts also raised the possibility that it was serving as a transshipment point for delivery to (North Korea),” the document says.

The potential for North to provide weapon-usable nuclear substances or atomic equipment to foreign nations continues to be a worry and poses “new challenges to international nonproliferation efforts,” the experts wrote.

Pyongyang has been accused by Israel, the United States and other nations of illicitly aiding Syria in building an atomic reactor that was demolished in a 2007 Israeli airstrike before it could go live. The Syrian government dismisses the accusations, which are being probed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (see GSN, May 2).

The experts also said Pyongyang’s uranium enrichment program, which the regime insists is for atomic energy production, is “primarily for military purposes.” The aspiring nuclear power “should be compelled to abandon its uranium enrichment program and that all aspects of the program should be placed under international monitoring,” the report advises (Charbonneau, Reuters, May 14).

%d bloggers like this: