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India accused of nurturing N. Korea's weapons scientists

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By Lee Han-soo


India is nurturing North Korean scientists despite United Nations sanctions, according to Al Jazeera, a Qatar-based news network.

Beginning with Hong Yong-il, the first-secretary to India, more than 30 scientists have been sent to the Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific (CSSTEAP), set up by the U.N. in 1995.

Two North Korean students are now studying at the center. One is affiliated with North Korea's National Aerospace Development Administration, which has been sanctioned by the U.N. on the grounds it is a key player in North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile development.

The U.N. prohibits member countries from providing technical training to North Korea under a nuclear sanction in 2006.

The sanction includes bans on training, advice, services or assistance related to nuclear, ballistic missiles or other weapons of mass destruction.

India has rejected the allegations, stating the topics at the centre are general, easily obtainable and would not provide any expertise in specific areas.

But North Korean students who have graduated from the institute have gone on to hold major positions in Pyongyang.

Hong became head of a research group on remote-sensing technology at the State Commission for Science and Technology.

Paek Chang-ho, who studied satellite communications at the institute, became head of an agency involved with North Korea's first satellite launch in 2012.

Experts believe India, which has condemned North Korea over its claimed nuclear bomb test in early January, may have helped North Korea's military program but it does not mean India was complicit.

"The training may very well have helped North Korea's military programs," Bruce E. Bechtol Jr, president of the International Council on Korean Studies, said in an email to Al Jazeera. "The result of the probe does not necessarily make India complicit."

India is due to submit a report to a U.N. advisory committee on the issue.



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