May 15, 2011 United Nations(AFP)
North Korea and Iran are suspected of sharing ballistic missile technology, according to a UN sanctions report which China has sought to block, diplomats said Sunday.
A Chinese representative on a UN panel of seven experts on North Korea nuclear sanctions refused to sign on the report, which said prohibited material was moved through a "neighboring third country", according to diplomats.
The country is not named in the report, excerpts of which were passed to AFP, but diplomats said it was China, the isolated north's closest ally.
The New York Times reported that Beijing had put political pressure on the expert not to sign.
"There are certainly going to be some tough talks on the report this week," said one diplomat, speaking like the others on condition of anonymity. The sanctions panel's work is to be discussed on Tuesday.
The UN Security Council imposed sanctions against North Korea after two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. It is banned from dealing in nuclear and ballistic material.
"Prohibited ballistic missile-related items are suspected to have been transferred between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran on regular scheduled flights of Air Koryo and Iran Air," the report said.
Air Koryo and Iran Air are the national airlines of North Korea and Iran. Both countries face UN sanctions over their nuclear programs.
North Korea used cargo flights because there was less security, the report said.
North Korea's international nuclear dealings have faced growing examination from the United Nations and western countries.
Six nation talks on ending the North's nuclear weapons drive have been stalled since December 2008.
Proliferation fears were heightened last November when the North said it had a uranium enrichment plant, which could give it a second way to make atomic bombs in addition to its plutonium stockpile.
China sought to block a previous sanctions panel report on North Korea this year which called for tougher implementation of sanctions and outlined the North's progress with uranium enrichment.
The new report was sent to all 15 members of the Security Council at the weekend and can only be released when there is unanimous agreement.
China has sought to bring North Korea back into the six-party nuclear talks, which also include South Korea, Japan, Russia and the United States.
South Korea has insisted there can only be new six nation talks when the rival North has shown it is serious about negotiations and shown some kind of remorse for sinking a South Korean warship and shelling a frontier island last year. The North has denied sinking the ship.
The US special envoy on North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, will hold talks in Seoul this week focused on the stalled nuclear negotiations.
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