TOKYO - A UN panel has found Chinese involvement in more than half of the suspected violations of the North Korean arms and luxury goods embargoes, a Japanese media report said Friday.
The panel identified 38 instances in which banned goods have gone to or from North Korea. Of these, 21 have involved China, the Asahi Shimbun reported, citing unnamed sources.
"The findings reflect in the end China has helped North Korea expand its weaponry and military threats," the Asahi said.
The panel, created in 2009 after the North's second nuclear test, reviewed the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions banning trade with North Korea in certain goods, the paper said.
In the majority of cases examined, Chinese ports served as transit points or Chinese firms were involved as intermediaries, it said, adding the panel's report could be released as early as next week.
Of the 21 cases linked with China, two involved the export or import of items related to weapons of mass destruction or ballistic missiles, the Asahi said.
One of them was a 2007 attempted shipment from North Korea to Syria - via the Chinese port of Dalian - of electronic parts and metal plates to be used for ballistic missiles, the Asahi said.
The other was a 2010 shipment from Taiwan, via China, to North Korea of machine tools that could have military applications.
Six other cases involved the export or import of weapons. The remaining 13 cases were about imports of luxury goods to North Korea, the Asahi said.
Friday's report followed earlier claims that a Chinese firm had exported four giant trucks capable of transporting and launching ballistic missiles in August.
The vehicles were likely those on display at the huge military display in April marking the centennial of the birth of the state's founder Kim Il-Sung, the Asahi said.
However, the UN panel did not include this in the tally as an investigation into the claims is still ongoing, the paper said.
China is North Korea's sole major ally and has long shielded Pyongyang from the worst of the international community's wrath over its nuclear and missile programmes.
The panel issued an earlier report in November 2010, and said North Korea has established elaborate schemes to evade sanctions, including false labelling, illicit financial transactions and use of shell and front companies.
The 2010 report called on UN members to stay vigilant, but acknowledged implementation of the sanctions might be difficult.