As the international community debates military intervention in Syria, South Korean and U.S authorities have begun talking about the Syrian regime’s ties to North Korea. On September 5th, the U.S. Department of Defense made the claim that North Korea and Syria have shared chemical weapons information.
Department of Defense spokesperson George Little told a regular briefing, “I think there’s been sharing between North Korea and Syria on any number of fronts.”
“As you’ll recall, the al-Kibar nuclear reactor was built with the support of the North Koreans,” he went on, referring to an unfinished nuclear reactor built with North Korean help that was destroyed by Israeli warplanes in September 2007. “So there has been a relationship and an exchange of information between the North Koreans and the Syrian regime for some time. And I can’t count out the possibility that they’ve discussed or shared information on chemical weapons.”
Prior to Little’s comments, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on the 4th, “North Korea maintains a massive stockpile of chemical weapons.”
Hagel stressed that North Korea’s chemical weapons “threaten our treaty ally the Republic of Korea and the 28,000 U.S. troops stationed there. I’ve just returned from Brunei, where I had a very serious and long conversation with South Korea’s defense minister (Kim Kwan Jin) about the real threat that North Korea’s stockpile of chemical weapons presents to them.”
Commenting on the subject on the 5th, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Kim Min Seok told a ministry briefing, “Our military believes North Korea started producing chemical weapons in the 1980s, and our understanding is they currently have 2500-5000 tons in stockpiles. If an emergency situation were to occur, we know that they are prepared to inflict damage with missiles and long-range artillery.”