The resolution, passed after North Korea’s diplomatically successful and technologically marginal nuclear test, prohibits the North from trading in major weapons systems. Reuters reports that for the last year, since North Korea restored diplomatic relations with Burma, North Korea has been selling its fellow tyrannical ChiCom satellite rocket launchers of “the same type as those deployed near the demilitarised zone.”
It’s now fodder for popular satire that Kim Jong Il doesn’t really care what the U.N. prohibits, but still, for some reason, I feel compelled to keep track of this stuff.
North Korea probably deploys several types of MRL systems along the DMZ, but the kind we tend to worry the most about are its 240-milimeter rockets, which can range the northern half of the Seoul metropolitan area, and which are thought to be capable of carrying chemical and biological weapons and a particularly nasty type of projectile called a “fuel air explosive,” a/k/a the poor man’s atomic bomb. This video will give you a good idea of what they can do to reinforced concrete buildings and armored vehicles.
Key to harnessing an FAE’s full destructive potential is the atomization and dissipation of the vapor cloud. Earlier Russian FAE’s were not fully effective when used in Chechnya for that reason. Intel analysts would know better than me how effective North Korea’s FAE’s may be. Most of North Korea’s rocket launchers are mounted on multiple rocket launchers that sit in underground bunkers until they pop out to launch (collectively) hundreds of rounds a minute, a much higher rate of fire than tube artillery. By maintaining an export market, the North Koreans can also afford to produce spare parts and replacements for their own systems.
Do you suppose the Burmese regime really needs these things to slaughter monks? The question that intrigues me even more is how the Burmese are paying Kim Jong Il. If we can find a bank and a spine, there’s a way to attach those assets.
Update: I guessed right. They were 240-milimeter rockets after all. The deal was arranged through a trading company in Singapore, which presumably has a bank account with records of the money transfers. Nearly all countries belong to something known as the Financial Action Task Force and have money laundering laws requiring due diligence in reporting suspicious transactions. It’s very hard to do something like this without breaking some country’s money laundering laws, unless the authorities are asleep. Singapore would not seem to be the sort of place that would overlook or tolerate money laundering.