m3n4.net March 20, 2018

United Nations links North Korea to Syria's chemical weapon program

03 March 2018, 12:06 | Tara Lloyd

The war between Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebel groups has killed more than half a million people


The New York Times notes the United Nations report has not been formally released to the public and might never be, even though a former member of the panel of experts described the report as an "important breakthrough".

Some 40 previously unreported shipments were made between 2012 and 2017, the report found. Materials included acid-resistant tiles, valves and pipes.

The report said that North Korean missile technicians also were seen working at known chemical weapons and missile facilities in Syria.

They also discovered that a North Korean front company, called Corst, shipped banned goods to a researcher at Syria's Scientific Studies Research Council, which the U.S. says is the government agency responsible for making non-conventional weapons and the means to deliver them. Those include use of an "incredibly sophisticated" network of shell companies, financial feints and cyber-sown diversions to evade sanctions, he said.

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The panel also said it continued its investigations into the activities of Ryu Jin, a senior official in Syria for the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation known as KOMID, who is on the United Nations sanctions blacklist.

Syria and North Korea have decades-old military ties.

A Syrian man shows remnants of rockets reportedly fired by regime forces on the rebel-held besieged town of Douma in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, Jan. 22, 2018.

In an urgent question to the Foreign Secretary, Mr Woodcock said: "The men and women of Ghouta who lie in pieces, deliberately targeted by Assad's Russia-enabled bombs, the dead children whose faces are altered by the chlorine gas that choked them". One of the SSRC facilities where chemical weapons are said to be manufactured is in Barzeh, one of the manufacturing centers outside of Damascus.

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Later on Sunday the White House said in a statement that "denuclearization must be the result of any dialogue with North Korea". President Trump called the measures targeting the country's shipping industry "the heaviest sanctions ever imposed".

"Russia needs to be on the right side of history on this issue".

She suggested that as North Korea's government becomes more desperate, it will look for "creative" means of funding its nuclear development.

This is bound to generate accusations that the United Nations lacks the courage to follow the convictions of its own experts or is too paralyzed by political interference from the likes of Syria's patrons in Russian Federation to take decisive action. Despite a retaliatory US strike ordered by Trump in 2017, worldwide reaction has been largely confined to diplomatic hand-wringing.

Syria renounced chemical weapons and agreed to the supervised destruction of its declared chemical-weapons arsenal in 2013, but the Syrian military has continued to use small amounts of sarin and other toxins in the country's civil war, apparently from hidden or reconstituted stocks.

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However, US President Donald Trump's refusal to recertify the deal has injected uncertainty into those sales. Aseman Airlines spokesman Mohammad Taghi Tabatabai told state TV that all on board Flight EP3704 were killed.

The UN report is said to highlight its efforts to illicitly trade with dozens of countries and groups in the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America. If the report is accurate, she said, "it would represent an ominous marker of how far the crimes and violations committed by the Syrian government have eroded respect for long-established prohibitions".

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