United Nations report links North Korea to Syria's chemical weapons program

Syria Cannot Use Chemical Weapons Because It Has None - Syrian Envoy to UN

They said on Tuesday that a report compiled by a United Nations panel of experts reveals that the special equipment required for chemical weapons production was shipped from North Korea to Syria.

North Korea's alleged aid to Syria is detailed in a 70-page report compiled by the U.N. Panel of Experts, a technical body that releases periodical assessments about compliance with U.N. resolutions, including trade sanctions imposed on Pyongyang.

The unreleased report, seen by the BBC, claims that 40 shipments of supplies, including high-heat, acid-resistant tiles, corrosion-resistant valves and thermometers, were made between 2012 and 2017.

A member state was quoted in the United Nations report as saying that North Korean technicians "continue to operate at chemical weapons and missile facilities at Barzeh, Adra and Hama".

The eight experts who make up the panel come from different countries and possess specific expertise in areas such as weapons of mass destruction, maritime transport and customs controls. 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".

One UN member state told the panel it had intelligence that North Korean technicians "continue to operate at chemical weapons and missile facilities at Barzeh, Adra and Hama".

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North Korea is already under a range of global and USA sanctions over its nuclear programme and missile tests. Chinese companies have already been fingered in the past few months for participating in illicit shipments between North Korea and Russian Federation.

It details "substantial new evidence" about North Korea's dealings with Syria dating back to 2008 via Ryonhap-2 and Komid, the pariah state's main weapons companies.

The worldwide community will be concerned by the findings because, if true, they seem to highlight serious failures in terms of isolating both nations, given that the shipments would have gone undetected despite the fact that both are the subject of stringent sanctions.

The report describes some of North Korea's methods of sanctions evasion, which include a complex web of shell companies, a network of sympathetic individuals in unnamed foreign countries who provide access to financing, the use of its own diplomats to carry out smuggling, and cyber operations. The council, and other entities, have suspected since 2011 that Pyongyang could be providing the supplies needed to bolster Syria's chemical weapons program.

What could be better to beat the drum for regime change than tying North Korean missiles to Syria and chemical weapons?

It agreed to give up its chemical weapons stock to worldwide investigators after a sarin attack in eastern Ghouta in 2013 which killed hundreds of people - widely believed to be the worst chemical incident in modern history. If the account of activities detailed in the United Nations report are true, she said, "it shows the depravity of the regime".

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