China gives details of items banned from export to North Korea

BEIJING (Reuters) - China released on Wednesday (Jan 25) a new, comprehensive list of goods that can not be exported to North Korea, including many "dual use" items that can be used to build weapons of mass destruction.

The publication of the list comes as international concern grows over North Korea's nuclear programme and missile development and weeks after then US President-elect Donald Trump said China "won't help" control North Korea.

The technical list of products with possibly both civilian and military use provides an unusually comprehensive outline of items that could be used to contribute to North Korea's weapons programmes.

The items include materials and equipment to develop nuclear missiles, software related to rockets or drones, high-speed video cameras, submarines, sensors and lasers.

The Ministry of Commerce said the list was meant to comply with the requirements of a round of UN sanctions imposed in November in response to North Korea's fifth and largest nuclear test in September.

The list was jointly released with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, the China Atomic Energy Authority and the Customs Bureau.

The list comes as concern is mounting over the expected test by North Korea of an intercontinental ballistic missile that might be able to reach the west coast of the United States.

US officials said last week they had seen indications that North Korea may be preparing for a new missile test-launch.

A launch could be an early test of the administration of President Trump, who was sworn in last Friday.

Trump's defence secretary, James Mattis, planned to visit Japan and South Korea next week, choosing the two US allies for his debut trip abroad as Pentagon chief, a US official said on Tuesday.

China's list of banned items adds detail to lists released last year and in 2013 and comes after the commerce ministry told companies in December they needed to pay attention to the latest UN sanctions on North Korea, especially those related to coal, to avoid unnecessary economic losses.

China is believed to be the only country buying North Korean coal, one of the isolated state's few sources of hard currency.

China unexpectedly boosted imports of coal from North Korea in December, even after it imposed a temporary ban on shipments from its northern neighbour ahead of new UN sanctions that came into effect at the beginning of December.

For the whole of 2016, China imported 22.5 million tonnes of coal from North Korea, up 14.5 per cent from 2015.