China still looks to be going its own way over North Korea, reinforcing the suggestion made by L Gordon Flake in our snapshot on ties between China and North Korea that the former risks being seen as abetting the latter’s bad behaviour.
China is reportedly set to block the release of a UN report stating that Pyongyang is flouting sanctions aimed at its nuclear programme. According to a diplomat quoted by AFP: ‘A Chinese expert has signed this report, but China does not want it published…Many countries want this report to be released, but China does not want it.’
The report is expected to call for tougher sanctions over North Korea’s uranium enrichment programme, which appears to have taken the United States and others by surprise in terms of its sophistication.
Based on information provided by diplomats who have seen the report, AFP added that the report says ‘North Korea has at least one secret nuclear military site, and the subterfuge work was probably started in the 1990s without raising suspicions.’
According to Global Security Newswire, North Korea is using P-2 centrifuges in its uranium enrichment. In reference to the same report, it says North Korea is believed to be seeing significantly more success in its enrichment efforts than Iran, which is using the same type of device. It speculates that this could be because Pyongyang has ‘cooperated more closely’ with disgraced Pakistani scientists Abdul Qadeer Khan than Iran did, ‘possibly receiving training in the assembly, operation and maintenance of centrifuges.’
China’s usual refrain is that it wants all involved to talk. Kim Jong-il may well agree. But this report looks set to underscore the dangers of allowing discussions to drag out indefinitely, meanwhile giving the North Koreans the time they need to keep making progress with their programme.