BEIJING – China downplayed a U.N. report saying North Korea remains "actively engaged" in exporting ballistic missiles, components and technology to numerous customers in the Middle East, saying Tuesday it was not an official Security Council report.
The report said North Korea was exporting missiles and technology in violation of United Nations sanctions. Diplomats say the shipments were going through China.
The report by a seven-member panel that monitors the sanctions was submitted to the U.N. Security Council. It also said North Korea has completed — or is about to complete — construction of a second launch site for long-range rockets. A copy of the report was obtained Monday by The Associated Press.
"It does not represent the Security Council's position. Nor does it represent the position of the relevant sanctions committee of the Security County," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a faxed statement.
Jiang said she would not comment on anonymous accusations of transshipments through China.
"What I can tell you is that China is earnest and responsible in implementing Security Council resolutions," she said.
The report said the launch site on the country's western coast is close to Tongchangdong and could be used for ballistic missiles in violation of U.N. sanctions. It said the installations appear "bigger and more sophisticated" than the original site on the east coast used for the 1998, 2006 and 2009 Taepodong missile launches.
"In an effort to get hard currency and advance its own programs, the country has been actively engaged in the export of complete (missile) systems, components and technology to numerous customers in the Middle East and South Asia," the panel said.
The panel, which monitors implementation of sanctions, said prohibited ballistic missile-related items are suspected to have been transferred between North Korea and Iran on regularly scheduled flights of Air Koryo and Iran Air, with transshipment through a third country that diplomats identified as China.
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 second round strengthened an arms embargo, authorized ship searches on the high seas for suspected banned items, and ordered an asset freeze and travel ban on companies and individuals involved in the country's nuclear and weapons programs.
The panel's 81-page report was sent to the 15 Security Council members for their approval by Tuesday morning. If all countries agree, it will be released. The panel's first report, in May 2010, was held up by China and finally released in November after Beijing dropped its objections.