Suspected North Korea missile parts seized en route to Syria in May

Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:53am EST
 
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By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A shipment of graphite cylinders usable in a missile program and suspected to have come from North Korea was found in May aboard a Chinese ship en route to Syria in what appears to have been a violation of U.N. sanctions, diplomats said on Tuesday.

South Korean officials seized the shipment of 445 graphite cylinders, which had been declared as lead piping, from a Chinese vessel called the Xin Yan Tai, U.N. Security Council diplomats told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

South Korean authorities stopped the ship at the South Korean port of Busan, the envoys said, adding that the cylinders were intended for a Syrian company called Electric Parts.

South Korean officials briefed the Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee about the seizure on October 24, the envoys said, and China had offered to help investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.

"It appears the cylinders were intended for Syria's missile program," a diplomat said. "China assured us they will investigate what looks like a violation of U.N. sanctions."

Another diplomat said: "It's possible that the crew of the Chinese ship had no idea what this shipment really was. It's good that China's expressed a willingness to investigate."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that China strictly followed U.N. resolutions and its own non-proliferation export controls.

"China will handle behavior that violates relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and China's laws and regulations according to the law," he told reporters in Beijing.   Continued...