S. Korea Tightens Controls on Dual-Use Technology Transfers to N. Korea

I’ve long suspected that technology transfers to Kaesong included many dual-use items, including American technology, that the North Koreans would easily put to destructive uses.  South Korea finally seems to be doing something about this:

South Korea’s audit agency expressed concern Wednesday that materials used to develop weapons of mass destruction may enter North Korea due to Seoul’s lax monitoring and advised the Unification Ministry to tighten rules.

The ministry, in charge of overseeing personnel and equipment exchanges with North Korea, should consider the “special nature of inter-Korean relations” and give censoring priority to strategic materials over general trade items, the Board of Audit and Inspection said in a report.

“The process of monitoring items exported to North Korea has no order of priority, raising concern that there could be a chance of strategic materials going to North Korea,” the audit agency said after an investigation requested by the National Assembly.  [Yonhap]

“Strategic materials,” meaning “equipment or technology used to make nuclear or biological weapons or missiles,” which would be a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1695 and 1718.  Yonhap’s report did not specify which strategic materials might have been shipped North, other than some black powder, 270 used computers, and as many as 2,000 other computers that were “temporarily” brought North by South Koreans, but which were never brought back to the South as promised.

Why North Korea couldn’t just as easily get computers of the same quality from China wasn’t clear, nor is it clear to me that ordinary desktops or laptops should be classified as “strategic.”  Still, it’s good to see South Korea starting to come to grips with the technology transfer problem, though much harm has probably already been done.

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