UN report: NKorea ships arms, violating sanctions

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - North Korea continues to violate U.N. sanctions by attempting to ship arms to Syria and Myanmar and illegally importing luxury goods, according to a long-awaited report by a U.N. experts panel.

No violations involving nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or ballistic missiles were mentioned in the 74-page report to the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions, published Friday.

The report also said new KN-08 ballistic missiles seen at an April military parade celebrating the centenary of founder Kim Il Sung's birth could be fake. The missiles were carried by a new, larger transporter that the Panel of Experts is investigating.

The Security Council imposed sanctions against North Korea after its first nuclear test in 2006 and stepped up sanctions after its second test in 2009 to try to derail the country's rogue nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

The panel found "ample evidence" that North Korea continues to defy measures in the resolutions, citing "elaborate techniques" used in several interceptions of banned goods.

"Nevertheless, although the resolutions have not caused the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to halt its banned activities, they appear to have slowed them and made illicit transactions significantly more difficult and expensive," the report said.

A diplomat at North Korea's UN mission, who would not give his name, rejected the findings.

"In principle, we don't recognize the Panel of Experts, because we reject the resolution it was founded on and have never acknowledged the group's reports," he said.

The report cited several cases of attempted shipments of arms-related material to Syria and Myanmar, including a French report about the Nov. 2010 interception of a shipment containing brass discs and copper rods used to manufacture artillery munitions and aluminum alloy tubes useable for making rockets.

A shipment headed for Syria seized in 2007 was transshipped through Dalian, China, and Port Kelang, Malaysia. It contained electrical and thermal switches and metallic alloys.

Illegally imported luxury goods included tobacco, bottles of sake, second-hand pianos and several second-hand Mercedes Benz cars, the report said. Several shipments originated in Japan and reached North Korea via Dalian, China, according to Japan.

A spokesman for the U.N. China mission had no comment.

The panel's previous report in May 2011 has not been released because of objections from China, which has close ties to North Korea. The details of the new report were reported by The Associated Press in May.