A private Chinese firm smuggled materials needed to develop missiles to North Korea sometime in April, the Asahi Shimbun reported Monday.
Camouflaged as materials for expressway construction, "high-grade tungsten and aluminum alloy was sent by the Chinese company to North Korea's central science, technology and trade company," the Japanese daily added. The smuggled materials were sent by ship.
"It is possible that Chinese government officials turned a blind eye to the transaction," the daily quoted a source as saying.
"According to a South Korean defense expert who tracks trends in North Korea, a dozen or so companies in China have cooperated with North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile development through trade links."
The New York Times said on Sunday that the U.S. is trying to determine whether China and Russia "are still providing the ingredients for the highly volatile fuel," known as UDMH, that is used for long-range ballistic missiles.
UDMH, a highly toxic chemical, was banned from export to the North in UN Security Council sanctions in 2012 and 2014.
Calls to cut off such fuel supplies "may well be too late," the NYT said. "Intelligence officials believe that the North's program has advanced to the point where it is no longer as reliant on outside suppliers, and that it may itself be making the potent fuel."
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