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‘Seized NK Containers Were Headed for Syria’

Posted October. 07, 2009 07:28,   


Four North Korean containers allegedly storing items related to chemical weapons seized in Busan last month were headed for Syria, a government source in Seoul said yesterday.

The North has long been suspected of transferring nuclear technology to Syria.

“(South) Korean and U.S. intelligence are focused on the fact that the seized containers were heading for Syria,” the source said. “They are concerned that protective clothing in containers can be used to develop weapons of mass destruction in Syria, such as nuclear or biological chemical weapons.”

“The (South Korean) government is testing whether the protective clothing in the seized containers guards against nuclear, biological and chemical weapons or are used in the development or use of nuclear and biochemical weapons, and analyzing the results.”

The protective clothing was reportedly made in Russia. The South also believes that the North might have copied, mediated or reprocessed Russian products.

The Australia Group, a group of 33 countries launched in 1985 to prevent the production and spread of biochemical weapons, defines protective clothing as devices related to biochemical weapons and controls their import and export.

The four containers were loaded onto the MSC Rachele, a Panama-registered cargo ship, not in North Korea but in a third country through cargo laundering, in which trading companies in a third country are recorded as sender and recipient in export and import documents.

“This container ship goes to every port in the world, including Busan New Port,” another South Korean government source said. “It seems to have selected a ship able to carry many containers to avoid tracking.”

The vessel is known to have been carrying 7,000 to 8,000 large and small containers when it was seized.