North Korea is helping Syria build chemical weapons: UN experts

N Korea helping Syrian chemical war

N Korea 'providing chemicals to Syria'

It comes as a report in the New York Times said North Korea shipped supplies that could be used to produce chemical weapons to Syria.

The report, also seen by the Washington Post, was compiled by the UN Panel of Experts, which assesses North Korea's compliance with UN resolutions, the BBC said.

The 200-page report found that Pyongyang sent more than 40 unreported shipments to Damascus between 2012 and 2017, which included the transfer of prohibited ballistic missiles, conventional arms and dual use goods.

The supplies from North Korea include acid-resistant tiles, valves and thermometers, according to a report by United Nations investigators.

In addition, missile technicians from Pyongyang have been seen by United Nations investigators working at known chemical weapons and missile operations in Syria, the report disclosed.

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Experts say that North Korea has long offered military supplies and weapons know-how around the world in exchange for cash. He said: "I think the overarching message is that all member states have a duty and responsibility to abide by the sanctions that are in place".

Pyongyang's missile experts have been identified at Syrian weapon-manufacturing premises, media reports said.

It describes how North Korea uses a complex web of shell companies and sympathetic foreign citizens to gain access to global financing, employs sophisticated cyber operations to steal military secrets and enlists its own diplomats in smuggling operations.

The Foreign Office said: "Minister Duncan urged Russian Federation to use its influence to ensure the Syrian regime adhered to the ceasefire in order to allow rapid, unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access and non-conditional medical evacuations which are urgently needed across Syria, but particularly eastern Ghouta".

That North Korea continues to do brisk business with other rogue states despite being subject to perhaps the tightest sanctions regime ever imposed on any country illustrates the limitations, and even downsides, of punishing rogue states by cutting them out of the legitimate global marketplace.

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The allegations show a well-established and illegal trade relationship, the report said, facilitated by shell companies and sympathetic individuals and allowing the isolated states to amass weapons and earn fortunes in violation of worldwide sanctions.

The Syrian regime has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons and did so again on Wednesday, claiming that "terrorist groups" including the Al-Nusra Front and Islamic State (ISIS) had obtained some stocks.

Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile under global pressure following a sarin gas attack on an opposition-held area near Damascus in 2013. This has come to lights after a report published by the UN.

St├ęphane Dujarric, a United Nations spokesman, said: "I think the overarching message is that all member states have a duty and responsibility to abide by the sanctions that are in place".

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