North Korea has increased its ballistic missile
exports to the Middle East over the last two years, according to a report in a major Japanese daily.
In 2001, North Korea exported $580 million worth of ballistic missiles
to the Middle East, a U.S. military officer in South Korea told the
Japanese-based Yomiuri Shimbun. It was the first time a U.S. official source
provided a dollar amount for Pyongyang's missile exports to the Middle East.
"It is rare for a U.S. military officer in South Korea to reveal such
specific figures, and analysts said the action suggested Washington would
soon increase economic pressure on Pyongyang," the Yomiuri Shimbun article said.
Western intelligence sources said Pyongyang increased its exports in
2001 and 2002 with missile sales to such countries as Egypt, Iran, Libya,
Pakistan Syria and Yemen. They said the exports included components,
technology as well as entire Scud-based systems.
The report of the increase in North Korean missile exports comes as the
Bush administration has launched an effort to halt Pyongyang's missile
sales. U.S. officials said the effort would focus on an international
embargo imposed on North Korea with the help of the United Nations Security
The increase in missile exports was first seen in 2001, the sources
said, when North Korea completed several deals with Middle East clients, the
sources said. Missile sales were said to have further increased in 2002.
The sources said North Korean missile exports averaged fewer than $500
million in the 1990s. They said the exports began to increase at the end of
the 1990s with Pyongyang's aid to Iran's Shihab-3 intermediate-missile
The increase, the sources said, was prompted by North Korean exports of
the No-Dong intermediate-range missile, developed in the early 1990s.
began exporting the No-Dong and components around 1997, first to Iran and
then to Libya and Egypt.
North Korea's leading missile company is Changgwang Sinyong Corporation,
which has been sanctioned by the United States. The company is also said to
have exported Scud C short-range and Scud D medium-range missiles to such
countries as Syria and Yemen.
The United States has asked Japan to tighten export restrictions on dual
use technology. The request was meant to prevent Japan from exporting
advanced civilian technology that can be used for Pyongyang's missile and
On Thursday, a North Korean defector said to have been involved in the
country's missile development program said 90 percent of missile components
were imported from Japan. At a news conference in Washington, the defector,
who used the name Lee Bok Koo and whose face was covered, said he had worked
in North Korea's missile program until 1997. He reported that Japanese
exports of missile components fell sharply after Pyongyang tested the No
Dong missile in 1993.
"We are too accustomed to Japanese parts and there were no substitutes,"
Lee said, speaking in Korean.