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N Korea missile launchers came from China: Reports

Japan has evidence that vehicles capable of transporting and launching missiles were exported to North Korea by a Chinese company in possible violation of UN sanctions,Japanese media reported

Written by Associated Press | Tokyo | Published: June 14, 2012 12:32:00 am

Japan has evidence that vehicles capable of transporting and launching missiles were exported to North Korea by a Chinese company in possible violation of UN sanctions,Japanese media reported on Wednesday.

China called the reports inaccurate,and denied violating any UN restriction.

According to the Japanese reports,four of the vehicles were shipped from Shanghai to North Korea last August aboard the Harmony Wish,a Cambodian-flagged cargo vessel. Japanese authorities tracked the ship by satellite,and searched it after it had delivered its cargo,when it transited through Japan the following month,the reports said.

Such vehicles — called TELs,— became the focus of international attention when North Korea displayed what looked like many of them during a military parade in Pyongyang in April. They are a concern as they could give the North the ability to transport long-range missiles around its territory,making them harder to locate and destroy.

Japan’s top government spokesman declined to confirm the reports on Wednesday. However he said,if necessary,Japan would work with the international community to determine if UN regulations were violated.

In Beijing,Liu Weimin,a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry,said his country had not violated any restrictions. “Chinese companies did not violate UN and Chinese laws,’’ he said,calling the reports “inaccurate”. He did not specifically confirm or deny the vehicles were sold,but said China was opposed to proliferation and is “complying with UN laws and regulations”.

According to the Asahi,the evidence was shared with South Korea and the United States,but claimed that Washington requested it not be made public. Despite the latest reports however,experts say pinning a sanctions-busting charge on Beijing would be difficult as it would be hard to prove that Beijing knowingly approved the exports for military purposes.

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