The Links between North Korea and Syria

[Sunday Times-UK] Michael Sheridan - Syria possesses the biggest missile arsenal and the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the Middle East, built up over the last two decades with arms bought from North Korea. North Korea, which exploded a nuclear device in October last year, has become critical to Syria's plans to enhance and upgrade its weapons. Earlier this year, foreign diplomats who follow North Korean affairs took note of an increase in diplomatic and military visits between the two. Diplomats believe North Korean engineers have worked on modifying the Scud-Cs to extend their 300 mile range. That means they can be based in the deserts of eastern Syria - the area of the September 6 Israeli strike. More worrying for Israel were reports from diplomats in Pyongyang that Syrian and Iranian observers were present at missile test firings by the North Korean military last summer and were given valuable telemetry data. The nuclear threat in Syria was long believed dormant, as Damascus appeared to rely on a chemical first-strike as an unconventional deterrent. But American intelligence officials believe Syria then recruited Iraqi scientists who fled after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

2007-09-17 01:00:00

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