N. Korea missiles may have China link

April 21, 2012 at 10:18 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 21 (UPI) -- North Korea may have obtained key components for its ballistic missile program from China in violation of U.N. sanctions, a U.S. official said.

A senior U.S. official said the chassis and other parts on a missile-transport vehicle spotted at a military parade this week appeared to be made in China, which The New York Times said raised concerns about Beijing's ability to enforce the U.N. ban on military sales to North Korea.

"We think this is poor Chinese performance in sanctions implementation, and not willful proliferation," the official said. "The Chinese system is so sprawling and poorly organized that they are not good at enforcing sanctions."

The vehicle in question is an eight-axle heavy truck capable of hauling missiles and serving as a launching pad as well. The Times said the vehicle's appearance could be an indication North Korea has advanced its program to develop a nuclear-capable mobile missile.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed the development at a congressional hearing this week, which was held as North Korea continued preparations for an expected nuclear bomb test. "I think the bottom line is if they, in fact, have a mobile capability to be able to have ICBMs deployed in that manner, that that increases the threat coming from North Korea," he said.

The Chinese Embassy in the United States told the Times its export restrictions were being enforced, and some military analysts gave Beijing the benefit of the doubt, saying the chassis may have been originally sold to the North for civilian use, such as mining or construction, and was then used to build the military vehicle.

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