There is a strong likelihood that Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon were armed and possibly trained by North Korea, according to a report by the US Congressional Research Service (CRS) obtained Wednesday by the Reuters news agency.
The CRS, which provides independent analyses to the Congress, cited "reputable sources" as saying North Korea had given weapons and possibly training to the Hizbullah terrorist organization, as well as to the Tamil Tigers terror group in Sri Lanka.
The report quoted Paris Intelligence Online, which specializes in political and economic intelligence, which provided details in September 2006 of an extensive North Korean program to provide weapons and advance terrorist training to Hizbullah.
According to the French internet publication, Hizbullah terrorists traveled to North Korea in the 1980's for advanced training. The program was expanded in 2000 by North Koreans who taught Hizbullah terrorists on site in Lebanon how to build underground bunkers.
In 2000 then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak withdrew IDF troops from the security buffer zone in southern Lebanon. The move allowed Hizbullah to quickly and efficiently rebuild and strengthen its infrastructure, leading to the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
The Israel Defense Forces discovered such bunkers in Lebanon, filled with weapons and food and outfitted as medical facilities, after the 2006 war. The CRS report said the North Korean training "significantly improved Hizbullah's ability to fight the Israelis" during the war.
In addition, reported the CRS, the Mossad, Israel's international intelligence agency, had confirmed the French claims. Prominent South Korean academic, Professor Moon Chung-in was quoted as saying the Mossad believed North Korea had produced "vital missile components" used in rockets fired by Hizbullah at Israel during the war.
North Korea appears to have been involved in other hostilities against Israel in the region, too. In September, Israel reportedly destroyed a nuclear facility in Syria that was built with parts from North Korea.
The revelations may cause the Bush administration to ditch a plan it has been contemplating to offer to remove North Korea from the list of states that sponsor terrorism in return for the Southeast Asian nation's disclosure of its nuclear programs.
The US has long believed that North Korea "was not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since 1987," said the report, which added that "Questions about the credibility of the claim are relevant in view of the appearance of reports…"