Procurement: September 15, 2003

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High ranking defectors from North Korea have reported that most of the production equipment, chemicals and electronics used in North Koreas weapons programs come from Japan. The parts were smuggled aboard the ferry that regularly travels between Japan and North Korea, or via smuggling gangs in China. Once the stuff is in China, it's a simple matter to bribe officials on the border to get the goods into North Korea. A recent example was the attempt by a Japanese truck dealer to smuggle a heavy duty tractor trailer (with a 30 ton capacity, enough to carry a ballistic missile) into China. The trailer was taken apart and successfully smuggled into China while labeled as something else. The smugglers were caught when they tried to get the tractor out of Japan. This was one of the few times the smugglers were caught. American spy satellites report that it's mostly Japanese made trucks moving material in and out of North Korean weapons plants and research facilities. Defectors report that some 90 percent of the electronic components in North Korea missiles are Japanese made. During the 1970s, if was later discovered, chemical manufacturing equipment from Japan was used to establish North Korea's chemical weapons industry. In this case, many of the equipment shipments were legit, as they were components for factories making non-weapons chemicals. But such factories can easily be modified to produce weapons. Unfortunately, chemicals that are mainly used for the production of weapons (or things the North Koreans have no use for) were shipped to North Korea from various nations, sometimes with the aid of bribes. For a long time, there was no effort to curtail the smuggling because it was felt that the North Koreans could be disarmed via negotiation. South Korea has been particularly enthusiastic about that approach over the last few years, and Japan felt compelled to support the south, which is one of its major trading partners. But now Japan feels threatened by an increasingly bellicose and irrational North Korea, and is cracking down on the illegal shipments of weapons components, cash, and other goods.

 


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