North Korea has been sending equipment to Syria that could be used to manufacture chemical weapons, United Nations experts has found according to a United States media report.
The equipment includes acid-resistant tiles, valves and pipes, a New York Times report stated, based on the as-yet-unreleased UN report.
The report compiled for the UN Sanctions Committee Panel of Experts, stated that the possible chemical weapons components were part of at least 40 shipments of banned missile parts sent from North Korea to Syria between 2012 and 2017.
Five shipments were sent to Damascus through a Chinese trading firm during late 2016 and early 2017, allegedly part of dozens of shipments over several years.
There are also reports of chlorine gas being used by Syrian forces in an attack on Easter Ghouta, a suburb in the Syrian capital Damascus.
The article also claims the UN report provides evidence that North Korean missile technicians were seen at Syrian chemical weapons and missile plants.
North Korea is currently being sanctioned for its nuclear programme.
“I think the overarching message is that all member states have a duty and a responsibility to abide by the sanctions that are in place,” spokesman for UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres Stephane Dujarric said.
It is not known whether the report will be released.
“My understanding, I’ve just seen the press reports, is that this is a report that goes to the Sanctions Committee Panel of Experts,” Mr Dujarric said.
“We do not have the report. I don’t know about its publication date if any.”
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has repeatedly denied claims that it uses chemical weapons, but medical aid organisations claim they have routinely treated victims of chemical attacks.
The report also said the Syrian government specifically denied the accusations there were missile experts from North Korean in the country.
South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jung-eun Kim said they were watching North Korea’s attempts to evade UN sanctions.
“We are racing to intercept North Korea’s violation of UN resolution and putting all diplomatic efforts with cooperation with the international community,” she said.
A US State Department official declined to comment on the report because of its confidential nature.