Two shipments sent by North Korea to a Syrian government chemical weapons agency have been intercepted in the past six months, according to a UN report. The 37-page report, seen by Reuters yesterday, gave no details of when or where the consignments were seized, but stated that the transfers were being investigated.
“Two member states interdicted shipments destined for Syria,” the document revealed. “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 Trade Cooperation, an organisation that has been blacklisted by the UN Security Council since 2009 and is considered to be North Korea’s primary arms dealer and exporter of ballistic missiles.
“The consignees were Syrian entities designated by the European Union and the United States 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 experts’ report stated. The SSRC has managed the development of Syria’s chemical weapons since the 1970s.
Despite the Syrian government agreeing to destroy all of its chemical weapons in 2013, there have been numerous incidents where sarin gas and chlorine has been used on civilians in several cities. The most recent reported use of chemical weapons was last month, when opposition groups accused the government of using chlorine in Eastern Ghouta, suffocating some 30 people.
This is not the first allegation of weapons trading between the two states. In 2013, the International Business Times reported that North Korea had supplied Syria with the latest technology to convert chemical weapons into warheads. The North Korean and Syrian missions at the UN have not yet responded to the report.