|Rep. Ha Tae-keung of the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party (BMP) speaks during a press conference at the National Assembly, Thursday.|
By Park Ji-won
Rep. Ha Tae-keung of the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party (BMP) claimed Thursday that Japan sent sanctioned material to North Korea on 30 occasions over the last two decades, some of which were used in the production of nuclear weapons.
Citing data from Japan's Center for Information on Security Trade Control (CISTEC), a nongovernmental organization which deals with security issues regarding Japan's exports, Ha said "Japan is making the preposterous claim that South Korea may have illegally shipped hydrogen fluoride to North Korea which can be used in the production of nuclear weapons. But I found Japanese data showing Japan has illegally exported hydrogen fluoride to North Korea."
The revelation came in an apparent move to counter the allegation raised by Japan that hydrogen fluoride shipped to South Korea from Tokyo was transported to the North in recent years which is a violation of U.N. sanctions.
Japan's Fuji TV raised further allegations about South Korea's handling of strategic items, Wednesday, citing data from the Korean government on cases of smuggling of those items.
Ha said the CISTEC data showed that Japan transferred materials and equipment more than 30 times between 1996 and 2013 including materials that could be used to develop nuclear and chemical weapons.
The data showed that a North Korean ship was found containing 50 kilograms of sodium fluoride in Osaka in January 1996 and another was found with 50 kilograms of hydrofluoric acid at Kobe in February the same year. He stated that hydrogen fluoride can also be used to create sarin gas, which has been used in terrorist attacks in the past.
"Hydrofluoric acid and sodium fluoride are under export control as they can be used to kill people. It is an illegal export using North Korean ships which were supposed to send rice to the North for urgent humanitarian aid," Ha said.
The data showed that a lyophilizer and a tanker were also illegally sent to North Korea in 2002 and 2008, respectively. It was also revealed that Japanese companies illegally sent two measuring machines to Malaysia in October and November 2001 through Singapore. One of the machines was later found at a nuclear facility in Libya.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy urged Japan Thursday to provide evidence to support its claim and to stop criticizing the South's export system. "Japan continues to make groundless allegations that might tarnish the reputation of the South's export control system," the ministry said in a press release.
Regarding the CISTEC data, the ministry said "There were no cases showing the illegal shipment of hydrogen fluoride to the North through South Korea."
"As Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo announced Tuesday, the ministry found no evidence of the transfer of hydrogen fluoride imported from Japan to any U.N.-sanctioned country," it added.
Meanwhile, the Japanese government reiterated its stance of keeping the trade restrictions against South Korea.
Regarding questions about the South's call for the withdrawal of the trade restrictions and the ministry's announcement, Japan's Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kotaro Nogami told reporters in Japan Thursday: "The Japanese government's measures to control export management follow the guidelines of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and it is not against the principle of free trade. It is wrong to say Japan has violated the WTO's regulations."