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Wednesday, December 24, 2008      

Axis of Evil gifts: ICBMs from N. Korea to Iran

WASHINGTON — The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that North Korea could export intercontinental ballistic missiles or technology to Iran over the next year.

"North Korea, I think, does have intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the United States," Adm. Timothy Keating, chief of U.S. Pacific Command, said. "Remember, that would include Hawaii and territories of the United States in our area of responsibility in the Pacific. So yes, I think they do have that capability."

In a briefing on Dec. 18, Keating said the U.S. military was preparing for long-range missile strikes by Pyongyang, Middle East Newsline reported. The admiral said Pacific Command has been increasing capabilities in missile defense.

North Korea has been assisting the medium- and intermediate-range missile programs of Iran and Syria. Officials said Pyongyang has also sought to export ballistic missile systems to Libya, Sudan and Yemen.

"We think Iran will be the first to receive North Korea's ICBM systems and technology," an official said. "From there, the capability could be exported anywhere."

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"We are prepared to deal with that eventuality should situation present itself," Keating said. "By increased capabilities in ballistic missile defense, we in the United States Pacific Command are more prepared to address that issue should it develop."

Pyongyang has been developing the Taepo Dong-2 missile, said to have a range of 4,000 kilometers. Officials said after a series of failures, the two-stage missile project was believed to have achieved progress in 2008.

Officials said North Korea has sought to increase its missile exports to the Middle East and other regions. They said Pyongyang was believed to be exporting more than $600 million worth of missiles and technology per year.


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