Report: North Korea sells Egypt 24 medium-range missiles

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

North Korea concluded an agreement to sell 24 No-Dong medium-range missiles to Egypt according to published reports.

The accord was signed earlier this year. The South Korean daily JoongAng Ilbo said the sale will include both missiles and related technology.

South Korean diplomatic sources confirmed reports of a missile deal between Pyongyang and Cairo. U.S. defense sources said a previous North Korean deal to sell 50 No-Dong missile engines to Egypt was stopped by Washington, Middle East Newsline reported.

"North Korea concluded the transaction secretly with Egypt earlier this year," JoongAng Ilbo quoted a diplomatic source as saying.

The newspaper identified the North Korean missile as the Rodong, named after the town where the medium-range weapon is being produced. The No-Dong has a range of at least 1,000 kilometers.

U.S. officials said Washington and Seoul agree regarding most of the details of North Korean sales to Egypt and other Middle East clients. They said the Egyptian-North Korean agreement might be on the administration agenda during the visit of Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher to Washington.

"I would say that we have a close strategic arrangement relationship with Egypt, and we regularly discuss a wide range of security issues, including nonproliferation," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

Nonproliferation, I would say, is a frequent topic of discussion with the Egyptians, so I wouldn't be surprised for it to come up."

Earlier this year, Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed with Maher the North Korean offer of No-Dong missiles to Egypt. On Monday, U.S. President George Bush warned Pyongyang of continued exports of missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

For years, Egypt tried to purchase missiles from Europe and the United States. The newspaper said when Egypt's request was rejected Pyongyang was approached. North Korea immediately agreed.

"We believe the North Koreans agreed to sell as many as 24 Rodong missiles to the Egyptian military," the newspaper quoted a fellow at the Korean Institute for Defense Analysis, a military research center in Seoul, as saying.

Earlier this month, North Korea said it wanted to improve relations with Egypt in all fields. Pyongyang is said to be a leading missile supplier to Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

The CIA said in a report in September that North Korea continues to supply Scud-based missile components and technology to Egypt. The report did not mention cooperation on the No-Dong.

Israel has expressed concern over the North Korean missile deal with Egypt, the newspaper said. The Israeli Embassy in Seoul said it has expressed its government's concern about the missile sales to Pyeongyang. An Israeli embassy spokesman in Seoul said his government raised the issue with North Korea.

Print this Article Print this Article Email this article Email this article Subscribe to this Feature Free Headline Alerts