North Korea sent banned items to Syria: UN

North Korea sent items used in ballistic missile and chemical weapons programs to Syria along with missile technicians in violation of sanctions, UN experts say.

The panel of experts monitoring sanctions against North Korea said its investigations into Pyongyang's transfer of prohibited ballistic missile, conventional arms and dual use goods found more than 40 previously unreported shipments to Syria between 2012 and 2017.

It also said an unnamed UN member state also reported evidence of Myanmar's receipt of a range of conventional weapons from North Korea including multiple rocket launchers and surface-to-air missiles in addition to ballistic missile systems.

AP obtained details from the more than 200-page report, including the panel's findings related to chemical weapons in Syria. The US and other Western nations have accused Syria of using chemical weapons against rebel-controlled areas including recently in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta, which President Bashar Assad's government denies.

The report to the UN Security Council, which diplomats expect to be made public in mid-March, details "substantial new evidence" about North Korea's dealings with Syria, dating back to 2008.

According to an unidentified member state, the North's Ryonhap-2 Corporation was involved that year in a Syrian ballistic missile program, the "manoeuvreable re-entry vehicle (MARV) Scud D (MD) project," the report said.

More recently, it said the August 2016 visit by a technical delegation from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea - the country's official name - "involved the transfer to Syria of special resistance valves and thermometers known for use in chemical weapons programs."

That information came from another member state which also reported that North Korean technicians "continue to operate at chemical weapons and missile facilities at Barzeh, Adra and Hama," the report said.

It quoted Syria's reply to the panel about the reports: "There are no DPRK technical companies in Syria and the only presence of some DPRK individuals are confined in the field of sports under private individual contracts for training athletics and gymnastics."

The panel said it also examined shipments interdicted by member states that were sent by the Chinese company Cheng Tong Trading Co to Damascus-based companies in 2016 and 2017.

The experts said 13 shipping containers were filled with "acid resistant tiles" which would cover 5,000 square metres, enough for a large-scale industrial project.

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