The evidence of North Korean connection comes as the United States and other countries have accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons on civilians, including recent attacks on civilians in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta using what appears to have been chlorine gas.
According to the NYT, the supplies from North Korea include acid-resistant tiles, valves, and thermometers, according to the report by United Nations investigators. North Korean missile technicians have also been spotted working at known chemical weapons and missile facilities inside Syria, according to the report, which was written by a panel of experts who looked at North Korea’s compliance with United Nations sanctions.
The report highlights the potential danger posed by any such trade between Syria and North Korea, which could allow Syria to maintain its chemical weapons while also providing North Korea with cash for its nuclear and missile programs, the NYT writes.
The possible chemical weapons components were part of at least 40 previously unreported shipments by North Korea to Syria between 2012 and 2017 of prohibited ballistic missile parts and materials that could be used for both military and civilian purposes, according to the report, which has not been publicly released but which was reviewed by The New York Times.
It is unclear when, or even whether, the report will be released.
“I don’t know about its publication date if any,” Stéphane Dujarric, a United Nations spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday in response to queries. Asked to comment on the report, 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.”
The eight experts who make up the panel come from different countries and possess specific expertise in areas like weapons of mass destruction, maritime transport and customs controls. Since 2010 the panel has had a mandate from the Security Council to investigate possible sanctions violations by North Korea and present its findings in an annual report.
Though experts who viewed the report said the evidence it cited did not prove definitively that there was current, continuing collaboration between North Korea and Syria on chemical weapons, they said it did provide the most detailed account to date of efforts to circumvent sanctions intended to curtail the military advancement of both countries.