North Korea is reportedly working to replenish Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.
North Korean chemical weapons en route to Syria were twice intercepted in the past six months, according to a confidential United Nations report on North Korea sanctions violations, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
The report, submitted to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) earlier this month and seen by Reuters on Monday, gave no details on when or where the interceptions occurred or what the shipments contained.
“The panel is investigating reported prohibited chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms cooperation between Syria and the DPRK (North Korea),” the report stated.
Furthermore, “Two [UN] 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 [Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation] contract with Syria.”
KOMID, described as North Korea’s key arms dealer and exporter of equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons, was blacklisted by the UNSC in 2009. In March 2016 the Council also blacklisted two KOMID representatives in Syria.
North Korea-Syria Cooperation.
The UN is investigating collaboration between Syria and North Korea, including cooperation on Syria’s Scud missile program and maintenance of Syria’s surface-to-air missiles.
North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missile development and nuclear programs, and the UNSC has toughened the measures in response to five nuclear weapons tests and four long-range missile launches conducted by Pyongyang.
Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013 under a deal brokered by Russia and the US. However, it is suspected that Syria has secretly acquired or developed new chemical weapons or has not disposed completely of its old stockpile.
During the country’s bloody civil war, sarin nerve gas has been used at least twice, while the use of chlorine as a weapon has been widespread.
The Syrian government has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons.