October 12, 2020 11:45
North Korea's massive new missiles and artillery batteries unveiled at a parade on Saturday marking the 75th anniversary of the Workers Party raise questions whether international sanctions are having any effect.
North Korea clearly continued to develop missiles and nuclear warheads even as it was negotiating with the U.S., and although the sanctions have crippled the North's economy, they have not halted or even retarded weapons development.
According to UN Security Council reports on the sanctions against the North as well as accounts from other experts, North Korea still imports rubber products, watch components and other civilian products that can be used in weapons development, while smuggling partially assembled weapons from China, Syria and Iran.
The U.S. government warned other countries early last month not to help North Korea import missile-related technologies and equipment, even "inadvertently." It cautioned that even "harmless-looking products" could be diverted by North Korea to develop missiles and cited the example of carbon fiber that could be used to manufacture missile combustion tubes and agriculture-use multi-axle trucks that could be turned into missile launch vehicles.
Chinese companies seem to be the main suppliers.
North Korea is also thought to be taking advantage of lax monitoring of transport ships by some countries to smuggle weapons components. There are suspicions that the North trades missile components with Iran and Syria using cargo vessels under third-country flags.
North Korea earns hard currency through illegal export of coal on ships that meet up on the high seas, and that money is used to import fuel illegally by the same method to power its weapons development program.
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