Chinese firms breaking UN embargo on North Korea
Chinese firms are breaking a United Nations embargo by supplying North Korea with key components for ballistic missiles including launch vehicles, according to evidence provided by an intelligence agency in the region.
A missile is carried during a mass military parade at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea Photo: AFP/GETTY
By Julian Ryall, Tokyo
8:30PM BST 08 Jun 2012
Classified documents seen by The Daily Telegraph show that Beijing has failed to act when confronted with evidence that Chinese companies are breaking UN Resolution 1874 and helping North Korea to build long range missiles.
This measure, passed with China's support on June 12, 2009, strengthens an arms embargo by urging all UN members to inspect North Korean cargoes and destroy any items linked to the country's missile or nuclear programmes.
But a study compiled by the intelligence agency of a country in the region shows how North Korean companies are continuing to buy banned materials in China. These entities "have been smuggling in or out controlled items by either setting up and operating a front company in China, or colluding with Chinese firms to forge documents and resorting to other masking techniques," says the report.
The companies include the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, known as KOMID, which deals in weapons and military equipment and has been singled out for UN sanctions.
Launch vehicles for long range missiles are among the items illegally purchased inside China. North Korea is currently trying to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that would be able to reach the United States. The country has already built a handful of nuclear bombs.
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"The North Korean entities subject to UN sanctions are known to have been deeply involved in the North Korean procurement of Chinese ICBM transporter-erector-launcher vehicles," says the report.
In August 2011, Changgwang Trading Corporation, a front company for KOMID, bought four lorries in China that were then altered into ICBM launchers and displayed in a parade in Pyongyang to celebrate the centenary of the birth of North Korea's founder, Kim Il-sung.
In addition, the Korea Ryonbong General Corporation purchased 2 tons of vanadium, which is used in the manufacture of missiles, from a Chinese company in May 2011.
Much of the equipment was shipped to North Korea from the Chinese port of Dalian.
"The UN North Korea Sanctions Committee has frequently asked China for clarification of North Korea's weapons transport through the port of Dalian, but China is said to have been shifting the responsibility to shipping companies of other nations or refusing to answer," says the report.
Sometimes, a bribe of between £40,000 – £60,000 is paid to a customs official to send each 40ft container filled with illegal missile components through Dalian, according to the report. North Korea also conceals its shipments.
"To hide its trade, North Korea has been using all available means, including falsely describing the contents of the shipments, forging the country of origin as China and purchasing the materials in the name of Chinese firms," adds the report.
Personnel from North Korean banks and trading companies regularly meet at Beijing International Airport to deliver large sums of money earned from weapons deals. This happens with the "connivance of Chinese authorities and the customs office," says the report.
China is North Korea's oldest and most committed ally, sending millions of "volunteer" soldiers to fight for the North during the war caused by its invasion of South Korea in 1950.
More recently, Beijing has propped up the bankrupt state with fuel and food supplies, while providing diplomatic support in the Security Council. China's aim is to guarantee the presence of a friendly state on its north-eastern border instead of a united Korean peninsula that might fall into America's orbit.