Under-the-Radar Launchers

Obama administration continues to ignore Beijing’s illegal transfer of ICBM launchers to N Korea

Six Chinese transporter-erector launchers (TELs) were sold to North Korea in 2011 and were first revealed carrying new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) during a Pyongyang military parade in April 2012.

The launchers are now part of North Korea’s newest and most-lethal road-mobile nuclear KN-08 missiles, which are capable of hitting parts of the western United States.

In addition to United Nations sanctions against North Korea, the missile launcher transfers violated the 2000 Iran, North Korea, Syria Nonproliferation Act passed by Congress requiring sanctions to be imposed on states that supply goods restricted for export under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) to Iran, North Korea, or Syria. The MTCR prohibition covers missile delivery systems.

Rick Fisher, a specialist on China’s military forces, said both the U.S. and Japanese governments have known about the Chinese government’s role in supplying the KN-08 missile launchers to North Korea for years.

“Yet, nearly two years after the transfer of these TELs, the administration has not issued one sanction against a Chinese company or made one public protest to China,” said Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

China for decades has been a major supplier of technology and military-related goods for North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, U.S. intelligence officials have said.

The ICBM launcher transfer is viewed as one of the most militarily significant arms proliferation activities in recent years, comparable to China’s supplying Pakistan with nuclear weapons designs and technology in the 1980s.

Pentagon officials said the sudden emergence of the KN-08 missile atop the Chinese launchers led to a major Joint Staff reassessment of missile threats to the United States that was carried out earlier this year.

That assessment in turn prompted a major shift in U.S. strategic defenses. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced in March that the Pentagon would add 14 long-range missile defense interceptors to the missile defense base in Fort Greely, Alaska. The new interceptors are being added in direct response to the North Korean mobile ICBM threat, officials said.

A U.N. panel of experts who examined North Korean sanctions implementation revealed in a June report that Chinese officials had admitted to providing the six off-road vehicles that Beijing asserted were illegally converted to ICBM launchers.

U.S. officials discounted the Chinese explanation and asserted that China has a long-time covert relationship with North Korea in supplying missile technology going back three decades.

A CIA-drafted report to Congress on arms proliferation published in February said North Korea continues to procure missile-related goods from foreign sources. China also is a major arms proliferator and continues to engage in weapons of mass destruction-related activities, including missile transfers to “states of concern,” the CIA report said.

The U.N. report said a panel of experts “considers it most likely that [North Korea] deliberately breached the end-user guarantee that it officially provided to [China’s] Wuhan and converted the WS51200 trucks into transporter-erector launchers.” The report was dated June 11.

China told the world body that the missile launchers were sold as “lumber transporters” despite being manufactured by China’s Hubei Sanjiang Space Wanshan Special Vehicle Co.

Full article: Under-the-Radar Launchers (Washington Free Beacon)

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