North Korea caught sending shipments to Syrian chemical weapons agency, reveals UN report

United Nations panel 'is investigating reported prohibited chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms cooperation'

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Tuesday 22 August 2017 18:21 BST
A devastated street in Aleppo after Syrian chemical weapons attack
A devastated street in Aleppo after Syrian chemical weapons attack (Getty)

Two North Korean shipments to a Syrian government agency responsible for the country’s chemical weapons programme have been intercepted in the last six-months, a United Nations report has revealed.

Compiled by an independent panel of experts who said they were investigating evidence of “arms cooperation“, it was submitted to the UN Security Council in August.

It was not immediately clear where the weapons were intercepted, but the report suggests possible collusion between the two countries on weapons programmes.

“The panel is investigating reported prohibited chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms cooperation between Syria and the DPRK (North Korea),” the experts wrote in the 37-page report.

“Two member states interdicted shipments destined for Syria. Another member state informed the panel that it had reasons to believe that the goods were part of a KOMID contract with Syria.”

KOMID refers to the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation that was blacklisted by the Council in 2009 and described as North Korea’s key arms dealer and exporter of equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons.

Two KOMID representatives in Syria were also blacklisted by the council in 2016.

“The consignees were Syrian entities designated by the EU and the US as front companies for Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC), a Syrian entity identified by the Panel as cooperating with KOMID in previous prohibited item transfers,” the report states.

SSRC has been responsible for Syria’s chemical weapons programme since the 1970s.

It comes on the anniversary of the deadly East Ghouta chemical attack four years ago that killed up to 1,700 people.

Residents were hit with Sarin in an air raid and thousands of people in the besieged rebel district of the country’s capital Damascus were rushed to hospital with symptoms such as convulsions, suffocation, coughing up blood and foaming at the mouth.

It is unclear how many died but estimates range from between 281 to 1,729.

In April, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime also dropped chemical weapons on the town of Khan Shaykhun, killing 74 people.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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