RealNews

Nerve gas chemical shipped to North Korea from South: official

More than 100 tonnes of a toxic chemical that can be used to make deadly nerve gas were exported to North Korea by a South Korean businessman via China, the government said.

The ministry of commerce said the businessman exported 107 tonnes of sodium cyanide between June and September last year to an importer in Dandong, China, on the border with North Korea, without government approval. The unidentified Chinese company re-exported the shipment to a North Korean trading firm, the ministry said in a statement. Sodium cyanide is widely used to produce herbicides and in metal industries, but can also be used to make deadly nerve gas. Because of the dual use, the chemical is subject to multilateral export control regimes to which South Korea is a signatory. The commerce ministry said it first learned about the illegal shipments and reported the South Korean businessman to prosecutors in October last year. Consequently, the unidentified South Korean businessman received a jail sentence of 18 months suspended for two years in January. The ministry said authorities were checking a report that a Malaysian company exported 40 tonnes of the same chemical, 15 tonnes of which it had bought from South Korea, to North Korea last month. North Korea has one of the world’s biggest stockpiles of chemical weapons, according to US intelligence sources, and is believed to have biological weapons. The Stalinist state also boasts of its nuclear deterrent force, and Washington believes it has developed a small number of nuclear devices. Full Story

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