North Korea chemical shipments to Syria intercepted

North Korea chemical shipments to Syria intercepted

North Koreahas twice been caught attempting to ship material to Syria's chemical weapons agency in the past six months, according to a confidential United Nations report prepared by a panel of experts.

North Korea and Syria had reportedly been cooperating on efforts to fix and maintain Syria's arsenal of short-range Scud missiles and the country's air defense systems.

The report was submitted to the UNSC earlier this month. It did not specify, however, where the interceptions happened or what the shipments contained.

Another UN member state told the panel that it had "reasons to believe that the goods were part of a KOMID (Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation) contract with Syria", the report said.

"Two member states interdicted shipments destined for Syria", the report stated.

KOMID has repeatedly trafficked in materials associated with ballistic missile development and other conventional arms programs, and was blacklisted by the United Nations security council as a result of those activities, Reuters reports.

According to the report, "Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) [was] identified by the Panel as cooperating with KOMID in previously prohibited item transfers". Weapons inspectors and diplomats, however, remain unconvinced that the program has been eliminated and suspect that Syria secretly maintained and developed new chemical weapons capability. There is evidence to suggest that KOMID has also supported the fix of Syria's Scud missiles air defense system. The U.N. Security Council has recently "ratcheted up the measures in response to five nuclear weapons tests and four long-range missile launches". "We will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons, and those responsible for their use must be held accountable". According to Reuters, Syria and North Korea have cooperated on Scud missile programs and in repairing Syrian surface-to-air missile defense systems.

The United States and Russian Federation brokered a deal in 2013 requiring Syria to destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles and the organization overseeing the elimination process past year declared the job complete. Therefore, the US and #South Korea have conducteda mock drill to familiarize people of the actions to be taken in case of a chemical weapon attack.