Fri, Jun 13, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Japan targets suppliers to N Korean weapon systems

AGENCIES , TOKYO AND SEOUL

Japanese authorities launched a series of raids this month on companies suspected of making and shipping pumps used to enrich uranium for North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, police and a company official said yesterday.

The investigation is based on information from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which inspected North Korea’s nuclear facilities last year, said Shinya Yamada, a spokesman for the Kanagawa police, south of Tokyo.

No charges have been filed in the case so far, and Yamada refused to provide further information on the locations or evidence gathered. Such business is banned by Japan’s Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Law.

One company, Nakano Corporation, a trading firm based in Tokyo, acknowledged being raided.

“They collected materials early last week,” said a company official, who identified himself only by his last name, Nakano.

According to the Yomiuri newspaper, the IAEA found evidence for the first time of Japanese machinery being used in the North Korea’s nuclear program last year.

The Japanese investigation focuses on a piece of machinery called a sync pump, which the Yomiuri said can be used for separating uranium as part of the enrichment process for nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, North Korea has warned that talks on scrapping its nuclear weapons program cannot progress unless deliveries of energy aid are guaranteed, a South Korean official said yesterday.

Pyongyang complains it has completed more than 80 percent of the work to disable its nuclear facilities, yet has received less than 40 percent of the aid it was promised in return under a six-nation agreement.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top