REPORT: China military support to N. Korea’s missiles program included transfers of rocket transporters

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A new report by a panel of experts from the UN Security Council proves that the Chinese military provided rocket transporters to North Korea for its missile program.

The panel identified Chinese-origin trucks shown in a military parade last April carrying China’s new KN-11 submarine-launched ballistic missile. “The trucks carried the ‘Sinotruk’ logo on the fuel tank and shared some identical features with the Sinotruk Howo 6×6 series trucks shown at the 10 October 2015 military parade,” the report said.

This is the second time the panel has identified a significant transfer of strategic missile technology from China to North Korea.

In June 2013, the panel revealed the sale by China in 2011 of six to eight transporter erector launchers, known as TELs, that are now part of North Korea’s first road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile system, the KN-08.

China claimed the KN-08 TEL vehicles were sold as lumber haulers. However, analysts said the 16-wheel launchers are too wide for logging roads. The launchers are made by the Sanjiang Special Truck Co. of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC).

An earlier UN report in April said Chinese electronic components were found in the debris of a North Korean missile test that landed in the Sea of Japan in 2016.

The latest disclosure on Chinese military assistance to North Korea comes amid reports that the regime of Kim Jong Un is rapidly developing long-range nuclear missiles, and they’re threatening to launch them in the direction of American cities.

Rep. Robert Pittenger (R., N.C.) pointed out that the report on Chinese support proves that China has not been a good faith partner to the United States on North Korea.

“We must continue to pressure the Chinese, via any means necessary, to ensure they correct their actions related to North Korea, human rights, illegal maritime claims, and a variety of other related national security concerns,” Pittenger said.

Rick Fisher, a military affairs analyst, said the Chinese assistance increased the threat to the United States.

“Let’s be clear, North Korea’s is able to wage surprise offensive nuclear strikes against the United States only because China has supplied the means for North Korea’s missiles to be mobile, to reach launch positions before the United States can strike them,” Fisher said.

“This really is no less an outrage than Nikita Khrushchev’s supplying nuclear missiles to Fidel Castro’s Cuba,” he said. “Yet for over four years, President Obama did not once publicly mention this Chinese outrage, and so far, neither has President Trump.”

Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the report on Sinotruk vehicles carrying KN-11s offers new evidence of China’s covert role in helping Kim Jong Un perfect his missile launch systems.

“Other Chinese vehicles spotted with missiles in the April parade include what appeared to be a Sinotruk A7 tractor-trailer cab, seen carrying a new, unidentified North Korean medium-range missile. Mobile 300-millimeter precision-guided artillery rockets also were seen on the same Sinotruk vehicle as the KN-11. The artillery rockets were first paraded in 2015 and the Sinotruk carriers appeared upgraded in the April procession with a hardened grille. The Chinese trucks were shown in videos and photos published by North Korean state media,” according to the report.

“Via Sinotruk, China is enabling North Korea to build larger tractor-trailer style TELs that in the future could perhaps transport multiple-warhead variants of its large, solid fuel ICBM,” said Fisher, adding, “Mobility will be crucial to the missions of North Korea’s new, large, solid-fuel ICBMs.”

The UN panel weakly warned China to stop the missile-related transfers, saying, “The panel recalls and reaffirms its recommendation to member states on enhanced vigilance over the export of commercial vehicles that could be converted for military use.”

The UN was urged to add the purchaser of the trucks, the Korea Daesong General Trading Corp., to the list of sanctioned companies. A second company, Korea Kumsan Trading Corp., was also recommended for sanctions.

China denies the claims in the report, which was published on Sep. 5, two days after Pyongyang detonated a large underground nuclear explosion. The report does not mention the nuclear test, North Korea’s sixth test blast.

The Security Council on Saturday voted to impose additional sanctions on North Korea, including a ban on Pyongyang’s largest export: coal.

However, the experts’ report pointed out that North Korea doesn’t react to the sanctions and has “continued to violate sectoral sanctions through the export of almost all of the commodities prohibited in the [UN] resolutions, generating at least $270 million in revenue during the reporting period.”

After China suspended coal imports in February, North Korea “has been rerouting coal to other member states including Malaysia and Vietnam, and has shipped coal through third countries,” the report said.

“The panel’s investigations reveal that the country is deliberately using indirect channels to export prohibited commodities, evading sanctions.”

To evade financial sanctions, Pyongyang stationed agents abroad that were able to conduct financial transactions for North Korean entities.

“Financial institutions in numerous member states wittingly and unwittingly have provided correspondent banking services to front companies and individuals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea engaged in prohibited activities,” the report said. However, China was not named as the member state guilty of facilitating banking services for the North Koreans.

The report notes that North Korea “has made significant technological progress” in advancing its weapons of mass destruction despite sanctions.

“The country also continues to flout the arms embargo and robust financial and sectoral sanctions, showing that as the sanctions regime expands, so does the scope of evasion,” the report said. “For the first time in the history of the sanctions regime against the country, the use of a chemical warfare agent was reported by Malaysia, which accused [North Korea] of using VX [nerve agent] in the February 2017 assassination of Kim Jong Nam, reported to be Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, in Kuala Lumpur.”

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