Japan has added 20 North Korean and four Iranian companies and research institutions to its export control list over fears that high-technology exports to the entities could be used in the development of weapons of mass destruction, the trade ministry said Tuesday.

The North Korean bodies include trading, chemical and cement companies, as well as Kim Chaek University of Technology, Pyongyang Maternity Hospital and Tanchon Commercial Bank, according to ministry officials.

The four Iranian organizations are mainly petrochemical, energy and electronics firms.

The list is updated annually by the ministry and covers entities suspected of developing missiles and nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

This year the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry took one North Korean and one Iranian organization off the list, along with two Indian bodies, bringing the total number of organizations subject to the restrictions to 185, in eight countries plus Taiwan.

The five other countries covered by the export control list are Israel, Syria, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

North Korea has the most companies and institutions on the list at 58. They include Choson Central Bank, a public library, a road construction company and the Pyongyang city construction bureau, METI officials said.

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