Seoul (AsiaNews) - The Chinese government "is losing patience with North Korea. It is certain that Beijing does not want to risk its international reputation by helping Pyongyang rearm. As much as they are allies, the Chinese know that the North Koreans do not respect their promises. For this reason, I do not believe the report that claims that Beijing is sending heavy missile launch vehicles to Pyongyang," a source in the South Korean Interior Ministry, anonymous for security reasons, told AsiaNews.
In a recent article, Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper claims that China shipped missile launch vehicles to North Korea last year in breach of United Nations resolutions, which ban any sale and shipment of weapons and sensitive materiel to Pyongyang.
According to the newspaper, "Japan, the United States and South Korea had solid evidence to prove that China" had shipped such vehicles. Their spy satellites tracked the cargo on a Cambodian-registered ship, the Harmony Wish.
"This report is baseless," AsiaNews's source said. "As far as I know, all available means are used to monitor weapons shipments to North Korea. We would not have let this kind of cargo get through."
China also denies the claim. "I want to emphasize that Chinese companies would never export products that are banned [. . .] by Security Council resolutions and Chinese law," said Liu Weimin, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry. "China consistently opposes the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their carriers."
The relationship between Beijing and Pyongyang has deteriorated since 2008 when the late Kim Jong-Il carried out two nuclear tests on the peninsula, breaking an international ban.
After that, the United States and South Korea cut off humanitarian aid to North Korea and the six-nation talks on nuclear disarmament were suspended.