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U.N. report: North Korea continues banned weapons trade

By Joe Vaccarello, CNN
  • North Korea is doing deals in banned weapons with Iran and others, a U.N. report says
  • The investigating panel finds "loopholes" and "vulnerabilities" exploited by North Korea
  • "Prohibited ballistic missile-related items" are suspected to have been traded with Iran

United Nations (CNN) -- A new unpublished U.N. report claims North Korea continues to trade banned weapons technology with several countries, including Iran.

The report, which was examined by CNN Monday, was compiled by a U.N. panel of experts looking into Security Council violations by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The report asserts that North Korea has "continued to defy the bans on imports and exports of nuclear-related items, of conventional arms and of luxury goods." In addition, the document says that "the panel has discovered loopholes and other vulnerabilities in shipping and transportation practices that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and others have exploited."

One of those trading partners in weaponry and technology, according to the report, is the Islamic Republic of Iran. The panel of experts found "prohibited ballistic missile-related items are suspected to have been transferred" between North Korea and Iran "on regular scheduled flights of Air Koryo and Iran Air."

The North Koreans have also used cargo flights and handling because such flights "lack the kind of monitoring and security to which passenger terminals and flights are now subject."

North Korea was targeted with sanctions by the U.N. Security Council starting in 2006 after it had conducted several nuclear and ballistic tests over the years.

The report detailed several examples of illicit arms or technology sales by North Korea that were stopped:

-- Thailand reported North Korean arms seized in December 2009 at Dom Muang Airport. The markings of crates suggested the 35 tons of arms were probably part of multiple shipments, possibly headed to Myanmar.

-- The panel learned about weapons that would have been delivered to Burundi in October 2009 by a Ukrainian company, possibly by the same aircraft that was impounded two months later in Thailand from North Korea.

-- Two states inspected a seized shipment containing propellant for use in Scud-type missiles en route from the North Korea to a Middle Eastern country that diplomats identified to CNN as Iran.

Calls seeking comment from the North Korean mission at the United Nations were not immediately returned.