Nokor missiles programs intact

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NEW YORK — North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs remain intact and Pyongyang is using airports and other facilities to shield its weapons from possible US military strikes, according to a United Nation (UN) panel of experts.

In a report seen by AFP on Tuesday, the panel said that sanctions against North Korea were “ineffective,” with Pyongyang still able to acquire illegal shipments of oil products, sell banned coal and violate an arms embargo.

“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) nuclear and ballistic missile programs remain intact,” said the report, using the official name for North Korea.

“DPRK is using civilian facilities, including airports for ballistic missile assembly and testing with the goal of effectively preventing ‘decapitation’ strikes.”

The confidential report was sent to the Security Council as President Donald Trump prepares for a second summit this month with leader Kim Jong Un that the United States hopes will yield concrete progress in dismantling Pyongyang’s weapons programs.

Trump’s administration has led the drive at the UN to impose a series of tough economic sanctions on North Korea in response to its nuclear tests and missile launches in 2017. But North Korea has resorted to illegal transfers of oil, fuel and coal to circumvent the UN-imposed measures.

The panel’s findings were in line with US intelligence assessments that North Korea is unlikely to scrap its weapons programs but may offer to scale back its activities to win sanctions relief.

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