- 14 Mar 2002
CIA tracks Japanese 'military' exports to N. Korea
The CIA has informed Tokyo of Japanese businesses that possibly exported chemicals and parts used in the production of weapons of mass destruction to North Korea, the Mainichi has learned. The CIA seldom passes information of this nature to Japan, indicating that Washington is on high alert about possible connections between Japanese firms and North Korea's weapons development programs. Sources said the government stepped up monitoring of politically sensitive exports to Pyongyang after receiving the list of dozens of suspected companies from the CIA late last year. The CIA drew up the list with the help of British intelligence officials and it is now a top-secret document in Japan, the sources said. The list contains the names of trading houses and other companies suspected of exporting chemicals, electronic parts and machinery that can be used in missile production and nuclear development programs to North Korea. Japan regulates the export of private-sector goods applicable for military purposes by requiring companies to obtain government approval. But no permission is needed when exporting to 25 designated countries such as the U.S. and Britain. Unauthorized exports of these goods are punishable, so that companies often export them to banned countries through a third country, the sources said. Since North Korea admitted having a nuclear development program when James Kelly, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, visited Pyongyang in October last year, Washington has been sensitive about exports to and from North Korea. "The U.S. government is highly concerned about possible proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by North Korea," a government official told the Mainichi.