U.N. to consider North Korea's attempts to export chemical weapons reagents

The United Nations will look into allegations that North Korea attempted to export ampules of reagents for chemical weapons to Syria in 2009.
The investigation will be a rare probe into the reclusive communist country's arm trade related to chemical weapons. The case may bring into focus a close relationship between North Korea and Syria in the production and development of weapons of mass destruction, the Yomiuri Shimbun reports.
Greek authorities seized a container from a Liberia-registered freighter heading toward Syria in November 2009. In the container they found wooden boxes stuffed with multiple types of ampules believed to be made of glass, each allegedly containing powdered or liquid reagents. Reagents are used to identify chemical substances that become airborne after the use of chemical weapons. They can be used in during a chemical weapons attack or in the defense against them.
Greek authorities also seized approximately 14,000 anti-chemical weapons suits from the vessel. The Greek government reported the seizures of the ampules and suits in September as a violation of the U.N. Security Council's Sanctions Committee resolution banning North Korea from exporting arms-related materials, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun.
According to estimates by South Korea's National Defense Ministry, North Korea has 2,500 to 4,000 tons of chemicals weapons, including sarin and mustard gases. Diplomatic sources said that the attempted export of chemical weapons reagents may have been conducted through China. It is unclear whether or not China has strictly inspected North Korea's cargo shipments.