This kind of system, he said, was "almost certainly beyond them."
CASIC designs vehicles of up to 21-meter-long (68 feet) trucks with maximum loading capacity of 122 tons for production at its Hubei Sanjiang Space Wanshan Special Vehicles Co., Ltd. in central China.
CASIC's press office did not respond to request for comment. A company statement from October 2010 cited the export of the first 16-wheel vehicle without specifying the purchasing country. The sales department of Hubei Sanjiang confirmed that a vehicle or vehicles of the 16-wheel type had been sold abroad, but refused to disclose the buyer, saying it was "a secret."
While agreeing that the vehicle in Sunday's parade probably came from China, Wezeman cautioned that it would be difficult to prove that Beijing had violated United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718 of October 14, 2006, in providing it to North Korea. That measure bans countries from supplying Pyongyang with items related to ballistic missiles.
"The vehicle could have been re-exported to North Korea from a third country, such as Pakistan, which is known to have used Chinese chassis for its medium range ballistic and other missiles, or North Korea could have used a front company to obscure that it was the buyer" Wezeman said. "Also it is possible that it was supplied to North Korea for civilian purposes such as construction."
CASIC descriptions of its 16-wheel vehicle make specific reference to its possible use in civilian activities including oil exploration.
While acknowledging the possibility that the vehicle seen in Sunday's parade was re-exported from Pakistan, Fisher was adamant that it had almost certainly been built in China for North Korean customers.
"I think that CASIC has put together as many as six or seven of these vehicles and that maybe half of them have been sold to Pyongyang," he said.
On Thursday Jane's Defence Weekly reported that following the Pyongyang parade, a U.N. Security Council investigation into the possibility of a sanctions breach was under way.
China, North Korea's main political and economic ally, supported the passage of the Security Council resolution banning the provision of missile related items to North Korea. But it is also determined to ensure that Pyongyang's current rulers remain in power, and to that end provides the regime military and other assistance.
North Korean space officials, meanwhile, said in a statement Thursday that they will keep pushing forward with their space development program. The statement said, without elaborating, that the North has figured out why its long-range rocket last week failed to put a satellite in orbit. The United States and South Korea called the launch a cover for a banned test of ballistic missile technology.
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