South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reports that China may have providd North Korea with the submarine-launched ballistic missile the regime test-fired last week citing a US weapons expert.
The expert, professor Bruce Bechtol of Angelo State University in Texas, argued during a radio show interview that North Korea’s SLBM, known as KN-11 is a "carbon copy" of China’s JL-1 submarine missile and suggested that Pyongyang acquired the weapon from Beijing in violation of international law.
"The missile that the North Koreans launched looks like it’s a two-stage missile just like the JL-1. It looks like it’s a solid-fuel missile just like the JL-1," explained Bechtol who said that the North Korean missile is either "a JL-1 or a very, very close variant."
"Just looking at the JL-1 and the North Korean SLBM, they’re looking exactly the same,” he said before claiming that China has a long track record of providing illegal weapons to North Korea including “transporter-erector-launchers (TEL)" which is a system used for launching missiles.
Bechtol also noted that in joint research with space and weapons expert Tal Inbar of Israel’s Fisher Institute, the two reached identical conclusions that the North Korean missile was acquired from China.
"He and I agree that there is really not any other missile that looks similar at all to this North Korean missile whereas the JL-1 looks like a carbon copy of it," he said.
The allegation, if true, would be a troubling development for China who as a member of the UN Security Council has taken an increasingly hawkish view towards their former ally in recent years voting in favor of sanctions against North Korea for each new missile launch – missiles that the American expert claims that China themselves provided.
The State Department refused to comment on the allegations that China provided submarine launched ballistic missiles to North Korea with State Department spokesman John Kirby saying "I’m not able to speak on intelligence matters here from the podium."