North Korea Providing Missile Technology to Iran and Syria

[imText1]According to a new report, North Korea has managed to export more than 1,000 Scud missiles to Middle Eastern countries in spite of international nonproliferation efforts, and is a key player in a system of mutual military cooperation among developing nations.

The 2009 report by the Independent Working Group on Post-ABM Trea¬ty Missile Defense and the Space Relationship (IWG), titled “Missile Defense, the Space Relationship, and the Twenty-First Century,” which was released in January of this year, reviews the threats posed by North Korea and other nations, and the reality of nuclear proliferation today.

According to the IWG report, North Korea has been deemed to be on the “second-tier proliferator” level, which refers to states in the developing world with varying technical capabilities that trade among themselves in order to bolster their communal nuclear and strategic weapons efforts.

The relationships between such developing countries may pose substantive threats. The 2009 report states that North Korea is believed to have greatly aided in the construction of the Al-Kibar reactor in Syria, a development that Israel felt was sufficiently threatening that an airstrike was used to destroy it in 2007, is estimated to have exported an estimated 1,000 “Scud” missiles to the Middle East region, and is believed to be currently offering technologies associated with Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) to states including Syria and Iran. North Korea is also alleged to have sold missiles to Pakistan in exchange for nuclear technology. The report states firmly, “In addition to missiles, North Korea is now able to export fissile materials, or even assembled nuclear devices, posing an additional and unacceptable threat to the United States.”

States such as North Korea and Iran are working hard to acquire, or in some cases already possess, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and the means to de¬liver them, the reported notes. North Korea already possesses several nuclear weapons and has made major advances in the develop¬ment of its ballistic missile capabilities. The Kim regime is reportedly moving towards deployment of new land- and sea-based ballistic missiles able to car¬ry nuclear warheads, whilst acting as a key proliferator of WMD/ballistic missile know-how as well as technologies and components.

It is said that North Korea’s missile exports, which net around $1.5 billion a year, constitute one of its largest single sources of revenue. Pyongyang has received extensive assistance from China in developing its missile program, including the “Taepo-Dong 2,” and from Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, who has provided technical assistance and components for manufacturing high-speed centrifuges, according to the report. The report also states that North Korea is known not only to have purchased high-speed centrifuges from the Kahn network, but is believed to have also purchased nuclear weapons blueprints in 2008 which would enable swift advances in Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle (MIRV) warhead programs. This could give the North the ability to build a miniature nuclear warhead with which it could arm a type of missile capable of reaching the continental United States.

Former Under Secretary of State John Bolton is quoted in the report as saying, “It is clear that Iran and North Korea are inter¬ested in ballistic missiles not as an interest but as part of an offensive capability… It is unlikely that either will willingly give up their nuclear programs. It is in both of their interests to hold on to their capabilities as long as possible. For North Korea, the program helps ensure that Kim Jong Il’s corrupt regime stays in power… Just as both nations will continue working on their nuclear and ballistic missile pro¬grams, the U.S. must diligently work on its own efforts to de¬fend against them, including the development of a robust Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) capability.”

As a response to other state’s offensive nuclear and conventional programs, the IWG report recommends that U.S. BMD programs be bolstered by funding directed at sea- and space-based defensive capacity, that a space-based missile defense test be carried out within three years and that the rapid development and deployment of all aspects of missile defense be made an “urgent national priority.”

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