A North Korean missile shipment to Syria was halted
when a train collision in that Asian country destroyed the missile cargo and
killed about a dozen Syrian technicians.
U.S. officials confirmed a report in a Japanese daily newspaper that a train explosion on April 22
killed about a dozen Syrian technicians near the Ryongchon province in North
Korea. The officials said the technicians were accompanying a train car full
of missile components and other equipment from a facility near the Chinese
border to a North Korea port.
A U.S. official said North Korean train cargo was also believed to have
contained tools for the production of ballistic missiles. North Korea has
sold Syria the extended-range Scud C and Scud D missiles, according to reports by Middle East Newsline.
"The way it was supposed work was that the train car full of missiles
and components would have arrived at the port and some would have been
shipped to Syria while others would have been transported by air," an
Officials said the North Korean shipment to Syria was not meant to have
contained chemical or biological weapons. They said foreign rescue crews
summoned to the train explosion did not report any chemical contamination.
The explosion was said to have been caused by a collision of two trains.
The collision downed an electrical power line, the sparks from which
detonated the fuel from the train.
On May 4, the Tokyo-based Sankei Shimbun quoted a military source that
reported the death of the Syrian technicians. The newspaper said North
Korean military personnel, wearing protective suits, removed the vestiges of
the destroyed equipment meant for Syria.
The technicans were representatives of Syria's Center for Scientific
Research, which has been cited for helping develop that country's weapons of
mass destruction program. The technicians were said to have been trained in
North Korea to operate the equipment.
Sankei said the bodies of the Syrians were flown home by a Syrian
aircraft, which had arrived in Pyongyang to deliver aid supplies. The
newspaper said North Korean personnel were also killed in the explosion.