China assisting North Korean missile program: Panetta

Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:17pm EDT
 

By Missy Ryan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China has provided some assistance to North Korea's missile program, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Thursday, a week after the hermit state's failed rocket launch triggered international condemnation.

Under United Nations Security Council resolutions from 2006 and 2009, states, including China, are banned from helping North Korea with its ballistic missile program, its nuclear activities as well as supplying heavy weapons.

Beijing has denied it has broken any rules, although a modern missile transporter seen in Sunday's military parade to celebrate the founder of North Korea was said by some western military experts to be of Chinese design and possibly origin.

"I'm sure there's been some help coming from China. I don't know, you know, the exact extent of that," Panetta told members of the House Armed Services Committee when asked whether China had been supporting North Korea's missile program through "trade and technology exchanges".

North Korea's powerful Asian neighbor is Pyongyang's only major ally, with military and economic ties that date back to the communist origins of the two nations.

Pyongyang has said it was ready to retaliate in the face of widespread condemnation of the failed launch, increasing the likelihood the isolated state will go ahead with a third nuclear test. Late on Thursday it said it had "never recognized the UNSC (U.N. Security Council) resolution".

After last week's launch, which the United States said was a disguised long-range missile test but which Pyongyang insists was meant to put a satellite into orbit, the Obama administration said it had suspended a food aid deal.

Pyongyang retorted the food aid was "worth a petty amount of money".   Continued...

 
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta speaks during Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Pentagon in Washington April 19, 2012. REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana