Tokyo trader charged with selling sensitive machine to Myanmar

Japanese police on Friday served a fresh arrest warrant on a Tokyo trader on suspicion of illegally exporting to Yangon a machine that can be used for developing missiles.

Tokyo: Amid reports that Myanmar may be aspiring to join the nuclear club with help from North Korea, Japanese police on Friday served a fresh arrest warrant on a Tokyo trader on suspicion of illegally exporting to Yangon a machine that can be used for developing missiles.
Ri Gyong Go, 41, president of Toko Boeki trading company here, is suspected of exporting a small-sized cylindrical grinding machine in violation of Japan`s foreign exchange and foreign trade law.

He allegedly shipped the machine to Myanmar from Nagoya port on November 20, 2008, without permission from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, police said.

Ri has admitted to the allegations, Kyodo news agency quoted police as saying.

Cylindrical grinders can be used to develop missile control systems and centrifuge machines for uranium enrichment. The devices are used to grind magnets.

Ri was first arrested on June 29 on suspicion of attempting to export also to Myanmar a separate instrument that can be used to produce weapons without a government permit, the report said.

Ri allegedly received an order for the cylindrical grinder from a North Korean-affiliated trading house in China. He then placed an order with a machinery maker in Japan and shipped the device to Myanmar`s Ministry of Industry No 2, according to investigations.

The Japanese police action came two days after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States was worried about the transfer of nuclear technology from North Korea to Myanmar.

Clinton, who was in Thailand for the ASEAN Summit this week, told a Thai television network that "we worry about the transfer of nuclear technology" from Pyongyang to
military-ruled Myanmar.

Her comments came weeks after the West grew suspicions about military cooperation between the two pariah states after a US Navy destroyer last month began tracking a suspected North Korean ship, the Kang Nam I that was reportedly heading for Myanmar.

After being shadowed by the US Navy, the ship reversed course and returned to North Korea earlier this month.

The vessel came under scrutiny under new United Nations sanctions designed to punish Pyongyang over its May 25 nuclear test and a series of provocative rocket launches.

It is still not clear what was aboard. US and South Korean officials suspected artillery and other non-nuclear arms, but one South Korean intelligence expert, citing satellite imagery, says the ship`s mission appeared to be related to a Myanmar nuclear programme and also carried Scud-type missiles.

While Myanmar is under Western sanctions for its crackdown on pro-democracy politicians, including Aung San Suu Kyi, North Korea is under UN embargoes for its nuclear tests.

Bureau Report

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