Sources within the Japanese government have allegedly confirmed that in August of 2011 a Chinese company provided North Korea with four large armored vehicles in violation of UN sanctions.
The four TELs (Transport Erector Launchers), which are capable of transporting and launching ballistic missiles, are said to be some of the eight identical vehicles that were spotted for the first time during the April 15th ‘Day of the Sun’ military parade in Pyongyang.
|▲ One of the suspect vehicles in Pyongyang on April 15th (© Tony Henshall)|
According to Asahi Shimbun, delivery of the trucks was done using the ‘Harmony Wish’, a 2,000 ton Cambodian cargo ship that departed Shanghai on August 1st before arriving in Nampo on North Korea’s West Sea coast on the 4th. This was later confirmed by Japanese, South Korean and American spy satellites, while the Japanese government then reportedly also obtained export documentation confirming the delivery in October, 2011 when the same ship docked in Osaka.
In line with defense analysis since the April parade, Asahi reports the vehicles as being “four large WS-51200 transport vehicles with a total length of 21 meters transported after completion in May 2011 by a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.”
Although information on the exchange was immediately assessed to be in violation of UN resolutions, Japan, the U.S. and South Korea allegedly refrained from confronting Beijing because, according to Japanese government sources, they were reliant on Chinese leverage to pressure North Korea in negotiations which, at the time, appeared to be proceeding well.
It wasn’t until the Leap Day Agreement had collapsed and public footage of the parade in Pyongyang in April emerged that U.S. officials revealed what they knew to Beijing. According to Asahi Shimbun sources, Chinese officials admitted to the delivery, in contradiction to previous assertions that they had never violated UN Resolution 1874. However, they additionally explained that the trucks were intended for civilian use.