‘Missile cylinders for Syria’ seized from Chinese ship

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A SHIPMENT of graphite cylinders usable in a missile programme and suspected to have come from North Korea was found aboard a Chinese ship en route to Syria in May this year, in what appears to have been a violation of UN sanctions.

South Korean officials seized the 445 graphite cylinders, which had been declared as lead piping, from a Chinese vessel called the Xin Yan Tai, UN Security Council diplomats have revealed.

Authorities stopped the ship at the South Korean port of Busan, the envoys said, adding that the cylinders were intended for a Syrian company called Electric Parts.

South Korean officials briefed the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee on 24 October about the seizure, and China had offered to help investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident. “It appears the cylinders were intended for Syria’s missile programme,” a diplomat said.

Another diplomat said: “It’s possible that the crew of the Chinese ship had no idea what this shipment really was. It’s good that China has expressed a willingness to investigate.”

Diplomats said the cylinders appeared to be consistent with material usable in a ballistic missile programme.

The shipment to Syria was arranged by a North Korean trading company.

North Korea is barred from importing or exporting nuclear and missile technology under UN Security Council sanctions.