Saturday, March 30, 2013

China and North Korea - Partners in WMD?

I recently posted on a report by the Congressional Research Service on China's relationship to the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in several nations around the globe including Iran, Pakistan and North Korea.  In this posting, I'll be looking at China's connection to North Korea (DPRK), an issue that is of particular interest in light of North Korea's latest foray into the nuclear age.  It is China's relationship with North Korea that is of particular interest because of its historical connection to the country during the Korean War.

1.) Non-nuclear Proliferation

It appears that the People's Republic of China (PRC) may have provided assistance to North Korea's space/satellite program as early as 1998 - 1999, however, confirmation of the connection with North Korea's medium range ballistic missile program was not possible even with the launching of the first Taepo Dong-1 missile in August 1998.  Nonetheless, China-based entities sold specialty steel, gyroscopes, accelerometers and precision grinding equipment to North Korea along with other missile-related equipment in 1999.

North Korea unsuccessfully attempted to launch a Taepo Dong-2 missile in April 2012, however, shortly thereafter, what appeared to be an ICBM was spotted on a 16-wheeled transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) that originated from China as shown in this picture:


The TEL was produced by a company that is part of the state-owned aerospace defense industry which produces materiel for China's People's Liberation Army.  A total of four of these TELs were shipped from Shanghai to North Korea in August 2011.

A United Nations panel has found that Chinese entities have been responsible for violating sanctions that were put in place in 2006 (United Nations Resolution 1695).  This resolution required all signatories to prevent the transfer of missile and missile-related goods and technologies to North Korea as stated here:

"The United Nations Security Council today condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent test-firing of a series of missiles, and demanded that the North-East Asian country suspend all ballistic missile related activity and reinstate its moratorium on missile launches.

Acting “under its special responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security”, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1695 (2006), by the terms of which it also required all Member States to prevent the transfer of missile and missile-related items, materials, goods and technology to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s missile or weapons of mass destruction programmes, as well as procurement of such items and technology from that country.  It also addressed the transfer of financial resources in relation to those programmes.

China welcomed the resolution and China's U.N. representative stated that "China had always been committed to maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula....".  He also urged the signatories to "...continue the diplomatic endeavours for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the normalization of relations between the countries concerned.""

Not surprisingly, North Korea rejected the resolution within forty-five minutes of its adoption.

2.) Nuclear Proliferation

As far back as October 2002, North Korea admitted to Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly that they had a secret program to enrich uranium and, by 2004, United States intelligence estimated that North Korea had a least 8 nuclear weapons.  At that time, it was questioned whether China's nuclear technology indirectly contributed to North Korea's nuclear program through Pakistan since China was the main supplier to Pakistan's nuclear weapons program.  Mr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, head of Pakistan's Khan Research Laboratories, disclosed that he had transferred designs for uranium enrichment centrifuges to China and it was later confirmed that Khan sold Libya a nuclear bomb design that he had received from China, one that could be delivered on a missile.  In 2003, China granted overflight rights to several Iranian cargo planes that reportedly picked up wooden crates from North Korea that may have contained cruise missiles.

After North Korea's second nuclear test in 2009, the United Arab Emirates seized a ship that was transporting North Korean weapons to Iran after it had docked at two of China's major port cities where the shipment was transferred to another cargo ship.

In 2011, it was found that Iran and North Korea traded illicit missile technology that was shipped through China.  In May 2012, a Chinese-owned ship was stopped by South Korea; the shipment seized contained graphite cylinders that could be used in a missile program.  The cylinders were destined for Syria.  In late 2012, North Korea also agreed to supply Egypt with parts for Scud missiles that were shipped by air cargo through China.  At the same time, Chinese missile technicians were sent to Egypt to work with North Korean technicians.

Thus far, the evidence that China has directly supplied North Korea with nuclear weapons technology is not indisputable, but their complicity in the transportation of weapons and technology appears quite solid.

3.) Military Relationship between the DPRK and China’s PLA

Since the war of the early 1950s, the relationship between China and North Korea and the United States and its allies has been very complex.  China's People's Liberation Army would appear to have inside information about North Korea's missile and nuclear technology programs and it is unclear how much of this information the PLA is willing to share with the United States.  It is known that China and North Korea had high-level contact just before the missile tests of both 1998 and 2006.  The PLA refers to North Korea as a "buffer", keeping the United States and Republic of Korea forces below the 38th parallel, providing a zone of protection for China.  In fact, in July 2010, the PLA opposed the United States - Republic of Korea joint maritime exercises being held in the Yellow Sea, perhaps a bit too close for comfort.

China's relationship with North Korea is, at the very least, a complicating factor in diplomacy in the Korean Peninsula.  Many experts question whether China seeks North Korea's denuclearization with as much urgency as most of the rest of the world.  China appears to be most interested in a stable North Korea and shows a strong preference for maintaining the "status quo".  North Korea depends on China for 80 percent dependent of its energy and economic activity with North Korea importing 70 to 80 percent of its foreign goods from China.  China has shown a preference for using positive inducements to pressure North Korea, at odds with the United States and its allies that prefer the use of sanctions to pressure the DPRK.  Apparently, neither approach works.  

It is apparent that, while North Korea itself may not necessarily be a threat to world security, transfers of China's technology by North Korea to nations including Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya and Yemen are cause for concern.  International relations in the region are extremely complex, largely due to the impact of the Korean War.  Diplomacy in the Far East as a whole is also complicated by the United States' relationship with Taiwan and the erosion of China's long-standing claim to sovereignty over Taiwan.  This issue came to a head in the mid-1990s when China threatened Taiwan with missile exercises in South China Sea, necessitating the dispatching of U.S. aircraft carriers.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave....


7 comments:

  1. Encounters Nepal Dot Com is an ethically governed and environmentally aware Trekking & Adventure Tour Operator. The company exists to promote and share with others the diverse geographical beauty as well as the cultural wealth of our homeland, Nepal, as well as that of some of our neighbours, such as Tibet and Bhutan. Predominantly, it is the mighty Himalayan ranges that attract visitors from all over the world to Nepal. Upon arrival, guests to our country are then also captivated by the interplay of the majestic mountainous landscapes with the overriding hospitality of the Nepali people. Our rich spiritual life and our many vibrantly joyous customs are born of the melding of the Hindu and Buddhist cultures which have co existed here side by side for centuries. This adds a mystical dimension to most travelers’ experiences in Nepal. It is this interplay of magnificent landscapes, of friendly and welcoming people from many different ethnic backgrounds and the complex, beautiful overlay of religious rites and cultural practices that make a sojourn in Nepal.
    Trekking in Nepal
    Everest Base Camp Trekking
    Annapurna Circuit trekking
    Upper Dolpo trekking
    Manaslu Circuit trekking
    Kanchenjunga base camp Trekking
    Mansarovar Kailash Shiva Parbat Yatra

    ReplyDelete
  2. Namaste and welcome to Nepal Base Camp Treks!!!

    Nepal Base Camp Treks is one of the best trekking agencies in Nepal. We operate fantastic trekking, mountaineering, peak climbing, jungle safari and tours packages in various must-go tourist destinations of Nepal and our neighboring countries Bhutan and Tibet. So, don’t bother searching for a reliable and excellent trekking operator in Nepal coz Nepal Base Camp Treks Pvt. Ltd. is already with you.
    Everest Base Camp Treks
    Trekking in Nepal
    Trekking Company in Nepal
    Annapurna base camp Treks
    Manaslu circuit trek
    Everest trekking
    Annapurna circuit Treks
    Langtang Valley Trekking
    Upper Mustang Trekking
    Kanchanjunga Trekking
    Trekking Guide in Nepal
    Peak Climbing in Nepal
    Package tour in Nepal

    ReplyDelete
  3. Welcome to Buna Treks
    BUNA "The Best & Unique Nepal Adventure" Company was founded by a group of dynamic Nepalese Tourism Professionals. This company has led countless adventures throughout various Himalayan destinations, which have included India, Tibet and Bhutan. With two decades of experience of organizing adventure trekking, and leisure trips tailor-made for families, schools and corporate executives, we can offer you quality equipment, excellent food that will add harmony in your Himalayan adventure
    Trekking in Nepal
    Trekking Company in Nepal
    Everest base camp trekking
    Annapurna base camp trekking
    Manaslu Circuit trekking
    Upper mustang trekking
    Kangjunga trekking
    Annapurna Circuit Trekking

    ReplyDelete
  4. Adventure Mountain Guide Team has been a leader in providing high country Travels and adventure activities Trekking in Nepal, 'www.adventuremountainguide.net' organizes Adventure Trekking, Peak Climbing, Package tours and river rafting for groups and individuals from all walks of life. We can assure that flexible design any program or package to suit your interest, schedule, fitness level and budget travels Service. Our highly experienced and professional Working team will be always ready to provide you the best of all trekking and tours services in Nepal.
    Trekking in Nepal
    Trekking Guide in Nepal
    Everest Base Camp Trekking
    Annapurna base camp trekking
    Manaslu Circuit Trekking
    Upper Mustang Trekking
    Kanchanjunga trekking
    Upper Dolpo Trekking
    Ghorepani Poonhill Trekking
    Langtang Valley Trekking
    Peak Climbing in Nepal
    Island Peak Climbing
    Mera Peak Climbing
    Annapurna Circuit Trekking

    ReplyDelete
  5. Adventure Great Himalaya is a government registered Trekking company in Nepal. comprised of qualified and experienced professional Nepal Trekking Agency. Adventure Great Himalaya has provided thousands of high quality trekking and tours trips for clients from all over the world. If your interest lies in Trekking In Nepal, Peak climbing, Tours in Nepal and River rafting or cultural sightseeing, our professional and knowledgeable staff is available to make your stay comfortable and memorable. Leave your worries to us and enjoy your holidays in Nepal.
    trekking company in Nepal
    Trekking Agency in Nepal
    Trekking in Nepal
    Everest base camp trek
    Annapurna base camp trek
    manaslu Circuit Trekking
    Peak Climbing in Nepal
    Langtang Valley Trek
    Upper Mustang
    Kanchanjunga Trekking

    ReplyDelete
  6. Adventure Trek Nepal Paradise Trekking Guide Co-operitive has been a leader in providing high country Travels and adventure activities Trekking in Nepal, Tibet, 'Treknp.com' organizes Trekking Peak , hiking, tours and river rafting for groups and individuals from all walks of life. We can assure that flexible design any program or package to suit your interest, schedule, fitness level and budget travels Service. Our organizing skills are as flexible as the mountains we escort you to.
    Trekking in Nepal
    Trekking company in nepal
    Everest Base Camp Trekking
    Annapurna base Camp Trekking
    Ghorepani Poonhill trekking
    manaslu Circuit trekking
    Upper Mustang Trekking
    Mera Peak Climbing
    Island Peak Climbing
    Langtang Valley Trekking
    Package tour in Nepal

    ReplyDelete
  7. Trekking in Nepal is delighted to welcome to you tiny but amazing country in Nepal. When you will have boundless adventures, there are attraction sharing and memorable in your life. Nepal trekking company, found by the team of enthusiastic and the trekking specialists is devoted to impart you a fondest memory during your Nepal holiday with us. We have been serving not here in Nepal only, also in Tibet, India and Bhutan as well. No matter, what type of trip you choose in Nepal. Either Nepal trekking, rafting and cannoning, Nepal Tour , mountaineering, Nepal Peak Climbing , jungle safaris and Nepal trekking activities. Nepal traveling with us is more than just a brief to stay somewhere; it is a real connection with the people, the unique countryside, distinctive culture, the Nepali cuisine, the environment and the flora and fauna of the country. Nepal tea house trekking offering for small trekking groups and big trekking groups. We are offering you, as your choice trekking service as well. You will find out our Nepal trekking guide will be the warm hospitality and government trended license to lead the Nepal historical place And Nepal Himalayan ranges .
    For more details click on the below links:
    Trekking in Nepal
    Nepal Trekking
    Everest Trekking
    Everest Base Camp Trekking
    Annapurna Trekking
    Langtang Valley Trekking
    Mustang Trekking
    Manaslu Trekking
    Nepal Hiking
    Nepal Tour
    Nepal Helicopter tour
    Nepal Peak Climbing
    Everest Three Pass Trekking

    ReplyDelete