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North Korea threat: China reaches out to agitated Pyongyang

North Korea threat: Washington says it has traced the sale of truck parts North Korea used to transport missiles to a Chinese company. Is Beijing not fully enforcing sanctions on North Korea?

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Videos from a recent North Korean military parade show missiles being transported on trucks built with what the US believes were some critical Chinese-made parts, such as a chassis, from the company Hubei Sanjiang. According to WSJ, the Obama administration does not believe the sale was made with permission from Beijing, but the US is concerned that China is unable to fully enforce the United Nations sanctions because of the large number of Chinese companies producing equipment that has both civilian and military uses.

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The vehicle carrying the chassis raises concerns because its use implies that North Korea has "made progress" producing long-range ballistic missiles that can be transported – an outcome the US has long fretted about, because mobile weapons will be harder to deter, according to The New York Times

China denied that any of its companies are in violation of the sanctions.

“We think this is poor Chinese performance in sanctions implementation, and not willful proliferation,” a US official told The New York Times. “The Chinese system is so sprawling and poorly organized that they are not good at enforcing sanctions.”

However elaborate the efforts to disguise the sale, analysts said, it vividly demonstrates China’s continuing trouble in enforcing sanctions. The Chinese government, experts say, has little control over companies that have dealings with North Korea, particularly those with ties to the People’s Liberation Army of China.

“It’s so huge, there’s so much corruption and state-owned companies have lots of autonomy,” said Michael J. Green, a China policy adviser in the George W. Bush administration. “The Chinese are incapable of being transparent with us on this system because they don’t understand it themselves.”

A US official told Reuters that Washington does not think Hubei Sanjiang intentionally flouted the sanctions either. They believe that a front company may have been involved, and that the company thought the equipment was for civilian use. 

He also said that Washington plans to use the issue as leverage to convince China to ratchet up its enforcement of sanctions on Pyongyang

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