UN claims North Korea tried to send shipments to Syria’s chemical weapons agency

This image made from video of an Aug. 14, 2017, still image broadcast in a news bulletin on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, by North Korea's KRT shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un receiving a briefing in Pyongyang. North Korea said leader Kim Jong Un was briefed on his military's plans to launch missiles in waters near Guam days after the Korean People's Army announced its preparing to create "enveloping fire" near the U.S. military hub in the Pacific. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this photo. (KRT via AP Video)

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Relations with North Korea grew more even complicated following reports that two of the country’s shipments to a Syrian government agency responsible for chemical weapons were intercepted in the past six months, says Reuters.

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A panel of independent UN experts issued the confidential, 37-page report on North Korea sanctions violations. The report was submitted to the UN Security Council earlier this month and read by Reuters staff on Monday. The report gave no details on when or where the alleged shipments were seized or what they contained.

“The panel is investigating reported prohibited chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms cooperation between Syria and the DPRK (North Korea),” the experts wrote in the report.

“Two member states interdicted shipments destined for Syria. Another member state informed the panel that it had reasons to believe that the goods were part of a KOMID contract with Syria,” according to the report.

KOMID stands for Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, which was “blacklisted by the Security Council in 2009 and described as Pyongyang’s key arms dealer and exporter of equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons,” according to Reuters.

“The consignees were Syrian entities designated by the European Union and the United States as front companies for Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), a Syrian entity identified by the panel as cooperating with KOMID in previous prohibited item transfers,” the UN experts wrote.

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In 2013, Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in a deal brokered by Russia and the U.S. Diplomats and weapons inspectors, however, suspect Syria may have secretly maintained their chemical weapons or created new stocks of them, Reuters reported. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has said that during the six years of civil war in Syria, the banned nerve agent sarin has been used at least twice, and the use of chlorine gas as a weapon has been widespread, but the Syrian government has continuously denied any responsibility for chemical weapons attacks.

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