News / Asia

China Downplays Report on Illegal North Korean Missile Shipments

Chinese officials are downplaying a U.N. report that accuses North Korea of continuing to export banned ballistic missile technology. On Tuesday, Chinese officials refused to engage allegations that the illegal shipments went through China.

China is coming under mounting pressure after diplomats claimed the Chinese representative on the U.N. panel refused to sign the report accusing North Korea of remaining “actively engaged” in illegal ballistic missile exports.

The report says the missile components and technology were moved through a third country in violation of United Nations sanctions. While the report does not mention which country that is, some diplomats have told news agencies it is China.

When quizzed by reporters Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu refused to engage with the accusations.

Jiang said China has maintained close and cooperative relations with all parties involved in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and always adopts what she described as a constructive attitude.

In an earlier faxed statement to journalists, she said that China is, in her words, "earnest and responsible when implementing Security Council resolutions."

The report is from a UN panel charged with monitoring the implementation of sanctions against North Korea.

Investigators said they suspect prohibited nuclear missile components have been transferred between North Korea and Iran on their national air carriers, Air Koryo and Iran Air. The flights are suspected of going through China.

The U.N. first imposed sanctions against North Korea banning the import or export of large scale arms, nuclear technology and other items in 2006, following Pyongyang’s first nuclear test.

After its second test in 2009, authorities strengthened the arms embargo and authorized searches of ships. The U.N. also imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on companies and individuals involved in the country's nuclear and weapons programs.

The panel's 81-page report was sent to the 15 Security Council members and they will discuss the findings Tuesday. If all parties agree on its content, the U.N. will make the report public.

Beijing held up the first report exactly a year ago, but dropped its objections six months later.

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