The United States has determined that North Korea's
greatest threat is that of a proliferator of missile and nuclear weapons
technology to Middle East states.
U.S. officials said the Bush administration does not see Pyongyang's
nuclear weapons as an immediate threat to South Korea. But they said North
Korea could offer nuclear technology for the production of warheads for its
medium- and intermediate-range missiles sold to Middle East clients, Middle East Newsline reported.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services
Committee that North Korea is more of a threat as a global proliferator of
weapons technology than as a nuclear aggressor on the Korean Peninsula. He
said many of Middle East countries are waiting for North Korean offers of
"North Korea is the greatest proliferator of missile technology,"
Rumsfeld said. "It is willing to sell almost anything and a lot of countries are
sitting around waiting to buy that type of material."
Officials said such countries as Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Yemen have
been negotiating with North Korea for a range of missile and weapons of mass
destruction components and technology. They said U.S. efforts to stop North
Korean missile proliferation have been unsuccessful.
For his part, Rumsfeld cited the December seizure by the Spanish navy of
a ship bound for Yemen with North Korean Scud missiles. In response to a
Yemeni threat to block U.S. military cooperation, Washington ordered that
the ship be released and continue to Yemen.
Rumsfeld said Washington and the international community lack the legal
basis to seize shipments of missile and WMD components. He said North Korea
has taken advantage of loopholes in international arms and export controls.
"They're not working very well now," Rumsfeld said.