NEW YORK // Deadlock over whether to publish a report about North Korea breaching UN sanctions by trading missile technology with Iran was not expected to be broken during closed-door talks in Manhattan yesterday, diplomats said.
China, Pyongyang's ally on the Security Council, has blocked the release of the report which was leaked to media last month but has not been formally published. A diplomat familiar with negotiations said a change in Beijing's position would be a "surprising development".
The report says North Korea appears to have been breaking UN sanctions by exchanging ballistic missile technology with Iran as well as trading contraband equipment with "customers in the Middle East and South Asia".
The 81-page document says "prohibited ballistic missile-related items are suspected to have been transferred" from North Korea to Iran on regular flights, transiting through a third country. Diplomats at the UN have identified China as the "trans-shipment" hub.
The report, compiled by an expert panel that monitors compliance with UN sanctions on Pyongyang, points to a warhead unveiled during a North Korean military parade in October last year that strongly resembled the "Iranian Shahab-3 triconic warhead".
Pyongyang was slapped with two rounds of UN sanctions in response to its nuclear tests of 2006 and 2009, barring it from trading nuclear and missile technology and stopping the top brass of Kim Jong-il's government from getting hold of luxury goods.
Security Council-appointed experts keep track of whether sanctions are being observed and names violators. Their reports are only published if all 15 council members agree to their release. Diplomats say Beijing is blocking this report. The report lists contraband shipments to Iran, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen and a consignment of outfits with "military utility for chemical protection" bound for Syria, which was suspected of developing a nuclear programme. Damascus denied it was the intended recipient.
It refers to a seizure made by UAE authorities of 90 tonnes of explosives, thousands of fuses and munitions for rocket launchers and about 10,000 warhead fuses for 122-mm rockets, packed in to 10 unmarked 6-metre crates.
The report also details North Korean attempts to import banned luxury items, including Mercedes-Benz vehicles, cinema equipment, yachts, more than three dozen pianos and dancing shoes.