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North Korea Covertly Supplying Middle Eastern Regimes

Israel accused North Korea of supplying six Mideast states with the means to produce WMD. John Bolton called North Korea a key regional player.
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz and Yishai Fleisher
First Publish: 10/7/2008, 11:33 AM

Israel News Photo: (file)

Israel accused North Korea of covertly supplying six Middle Eastern countries with the means to produce weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, ignoring international non-proliferation agreements. In a speech to a
Danieli said that "at least half a dozen" Middle Eastern states "have become eager recipients of North Korea."
Republican party lobby group, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, called North Korea a key player in Middle East security.

Addressing a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria, on Saturday, Israeli representative David Danieli charged, "At a time when the international community concentrates on North Korea's nuclear activities and its non-compliance with safeguards agreements, the Middle East is at the receiving end of North Korea's reckless practices."

Without naming the countries in question, Danieli said that "at least half a dozen" Middle Eastern states "have become eager recipients of North Korea, mostly through black market and covert network channels." Those states, he emphasized, "do not even pay lip service to control regimes and are acting in bad faith regarding their stated policy and their undertakings regarding non-proliferation conventions."

Danieli went on to comment that the international community is ignoring the North Korean role in the regional arms race, but "this dark aspect of North Korean behavior... has become a matter of great concern to my government and others."

The week-long meeting of the 145-member IAEA focused on North Korea's black market role and its decision to renew its nuclear weapons program. A unanimous resolution adopted at the meeting called on North Korea to adhere to its earlier commitments to freeze nuclear development.

Two draft resolutions sponsored by several Arab countries demanded that Israel join the Non-Proliferation Treaty and submit to full IAEA inspections.

Bolton: North Korea Would Sell Nukes to Al-Qaeda
"I've spent a lot of time trying to convince people that North Korea's an important Middle Eastern country." So said John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations during a recent address to the Republican Jewish Coalition. Bolton stressed North Korea's criminality and cooperation with Iran on nuclear development and proliferation.

Can't see player? Click here for Bolton's take on North Korea's Middle East Gambit.

According to Bolton, North Korea has a strong ties to Israel's enemies in the Middle East: "North Korea was and is the world's largest proliferator of ballistic missile technology, much of it into the regimes in the Middle East. We've just seen proof last year that North Korea had spent five years building a nuclear reactor in Syria, of all places. Syria didn't make the original Axis of Evil - I called it a Junior Varsity member. But there's no doubt in my mind that Syria would not have engaged in that kind of cooperation with North Korea without at least acquiescence by Iran and quite possibly funding by Iran. I think that reactor could well have been a three-way joint venture between North Korea, Iran and Syria."

Ambassador Bolton explained that both North Korea and Iran both had incentives to hide their nuclear program in Syria: "If you're North Korea or Iran pursuing nuclear weapons, what better place to hide your program than in Syria, where nobody's looking for it. And the cooperation on ballistic missiles is directly related to nuclear weapons. These countries are not developing longer range ballistic missiles because of an abstract interest in physics, they're developing the ballistic missile capability to deliver warheads, and although you can deliver conventional warheads or even chemical and biological warheads by missile, it's a pretty inefficient way to spend money. This is clearly part of a larger nuclear program."

Bolton urged lawmakers and political activists to get involved in the North Korea issue so that the dangers it poses can be mitigated: "I've spent a lot of time trying to convince people that North Korea's an important Middle Eastern country because of its proliferation of ballistic missiles and now proof positive that it was engaged in constructing a nuclear reactor in Syria, a clone of the Yongbyon reactor that we've read so much about. North Korea being a criminal state, it is capable of selling a nuclear device it already has to anybody with hard currency. If Al-Qaeda came up with the money, I have no doubt that North Korea would sell it to them."