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China Blocked North’s Nuclear Materials Imports

Posted February. 22, 2004 22:32,   


The Chinese government had seized nuclear weapon manufacturing materials last summer that North Korea had planned for importation, reported Asahi Shimbun by quoting U.S. government official from Washington D.C. on Feb. 22.

The confiscated material was known as liquefied Tributyl Phosphate (TBP), a solvent that is used for extracting Plutonium from nuclear fuel.

According to the Japanese press, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) designated a Pyongyang bound express train that was suspected of containing TBP last summer and asked for China’s interception, following information that the North was likely to import a large volume of TBP.

Chinese investigators searched the train for TBP at Liaoning’s Dandung station in vain, but finally seized TBP from another Pyongyang bound train a few days later during its probe.

The CIA had already received information in December 2002 that North Korea might import approximately 20 tons of TBP from China. But it had decided not to notify China, since “China didn’t seem to want to cooperate with U.S.,” said reporters.

“It is evident that the U.S. and China are cooperating under the table for the sake of a nuclear-free zone in the Korean Peninsula,” said Asahi Shimbun. “The North is likely to face a large difficulty in its move for a nuclear development plan, now that its great alliance nation began to obstruct it.”

The press added that North Korea might have agreed to join the first round of six-way talks last August, since it had accepted China’s warning against importation of nuclear materials.