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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In the news ニュース

Snow! Not much, but there is a dusting of the white stuff on the ground this morning. And the Olympics look really close today. It's days like this I really don't want to go back to Taiwan. Sigh...

Speaking of the so-called Beautiful Island, according to an article in today's Daily Yomiuri, a Taiwanese firm is accused of selling precision equipment to North Korea 朝鮮民主主義人民共和国:

"Taiwanese investigators have sent papers to prosecutors on a company suspected of violating the trade law by illegally exporting precision equipment capable of producing nuclear weapons-related materials to North Korea...With Japan tightening its controls on exports to North Korea following the revelation of Pyongyang's nuclear and missile development programs, North Korea is believed to have turned to Taiwan, which is not a member of the United Nations, to import Taiwanese machinery. The machinery are said to have contained high-tech parts from Japan...Taipei-based Yicheng Co. is suspected of this year exporting precision machinery capable of extracting plutonium and producing biological and chemical weapons to a company connected to the North Korean military, through Dalian, China. Exports of the machinery to North Korea are banned."

Apparently, it's not the first time this has happened:

"In March, investigators took action against a company in Taichung, Taiwan, for illegally exporting precision machinery capable of producing bullets to North Korea. In August, another company in Taipei was found to have exported Japanese computers and other products containing parts that could be used in missiles to North Korea. The North's importation of machinery capable of producing nuclear-related materials indicates that it is making a concerted effort to procure machinery capable of being used in the manufacturing of a wide range of weapons. The three cases revealed that North Korea was able to make contact with the Taiwanese firms through Taiwanese businessmen who traveled between Taiwan and China and also Chinese companies. They are said to have traveled to Taiwan via Macau and Hong Kong...North Korea targeted Taiwan because it manufactures high-tech precision machinery. (A) senior investigator said North Koreans had gone to Taiwan to receive training on how to operate and maintain the machinery...Taiwanese investigators are said to have been working with their U.S. counterparts, and plan to strengthen ties with Japan and South Korea to prevent illegal exports and shed more light on the North Korea-Taiwan connections."

To paraphrase an old cliche, international isolation makes for strange bedfellows.

It's off to the local mall today to do some early Christmas shopping.

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