China Denies Exporting North Korean Missile Vehicles
Japanese media has reported that China shipped vehicles capable of transporting and launching missiles to North Korea, which would be in violation of U.N. sanctions. The Chinese government has now denied the claims. From AP:
According to the reports, four of the vehicles were shipped from Shanghai to North Korea last August on board the Harmony Wish, a Cambodian-flagged cargo vessel. Japanese authorities tracked the ship by satellite and searched it after it had delivered its cargo, when it transited through Japan the following month, the reports said.
Such vehicles, called TELs – for transporter, erector, launcher – became the focus of international attention when North Korea displayed what looked like several of them during a military parade in its capital, Pyongyang, in April.
They are a concern because they could give North Korea the ability to transport long-range missiles around its territory, making them harder to locate and destroy.
Japan’s top government spokesman declined to confirm the reports on Wednesday. But he said that if necessary, Japan would work with the international community to determine if UN regulations were violated.
Images of the April 15 parade in Pyongyang, held to commemorate the centennial of the birth of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, featured large 16-wheeler transport vehicles carrying ballistic missiles.
The vehicles were believed to have come from China, the same ones mentioned in a shipping report obtained by the Japanese government.
Japan, the United States and South Korea had solid evidence to prove that China, despite its repeated denials, had violated a U.N. Security Council resolution banning weapons exports to North Korea.
But the three countries decided not to pursue the matter in the Security Council, underscoring the complexities in international horse trading.