UN Report Links N. Korea to Syria

Syria has conducted chemical weapons attacks on civilians in Eastern Ghouta

A leaked United Nations report, compiled by a United Nations panel of experts, claims to have recorded 40 previously undisclosed shipments between North Korea and Syria.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) concluded that Sarin was used in Khan Sheikhoun, a rebel-held town in Idlib province, last April in an incident that killed more than 80 people.

The report was compiled by a group of United Nations experts, who monitor compliance with sanctions regime imposed by the United Nations against North Korea.

Another visit by North Korean ballistic missile experts was conducted in November 2016.

According to the official, who revealed the startling details on the condition of anonymity, Kim Jong-un leadership has sent a large cache of acid-resistant tiles, valves and thermometers to war-torn Syria.

United States disarmament ambassador Robert Wood, however, said: "Clearly there has been a history of a relationship between North Korea and Syria with regard to missile activity".

North Korea is under heavy worldwide and US sanctions for its development of nuclear weapons and a missile system that could deliver a warhead to much of the globe.

The report said among other activities Ryu Jin shipped ball-bearings and fiber-optic cables to Syria and earned 56,000 Euros and 48,000 Euros respectively, which was transferred through Tanchon Commercial Bank. Identifying companies with links to Pyongyang and cracking down on them is perhaps the hardest part of the sanctions whack-a-mole game.

In 2013, two years into the Syrian civil war, the Obama administration alleged that the Syrian government had used sarin gas in Ghouta. North Korean missile technicians have also reportedly been seen working at weapons facilities inside Syria.

The report further suggests that the North Korean government has made use of a complex web of shell companies and sympathetic foreign nationals to access global financing. By Sunday, the Syrian government had violated the temporary truce by launching a fresh campaign in Eastern Ghouta, the last rebel stronghold near the capital.

An affected child receives treatment after a gas attack on al-Shifunieh village, in Eastern Ghouta, Syria, 25 February 2018 (issued 26 February 2018).

The respite was ordered by Mr Assad's chief backer, Russia, which has said it would be repeated on a daily basis to allow civilians trapped by the fighting to leave.

The panel said it also examined shipments interdicted by member states that were sent by the Chinese company Cheng Tong Trading Co. The latter has also allegedly paid North Korea through a number of front companies. The Security Council has commissioned the group since 2010 to investigate the circumvention of sanctions. One of the recipients of the illegal shipments is said to be China, an accusation Beijing, again, denies.

The Russian-backed truce, which went into effect on early Tuesday, was meant to facilitate the delivery of aid and the evacuation of civilians, who have been trapped in the besieged suburbs since Damascus and Russia stepped up attacks on the region earlier this month. On Wednesday, Lavrov addressed the UN Human Right Council in Geneva, Switzerland, again speaking about the humanitarian corridor.

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