October 27, 2006 12:36
North Korea’s threat to sever ties with Seoul if the South joins UN sanctions against it seems to have been triggered by the fact that it expects the sanctions to hit home. Wednesday’s North Korean statement lambasted the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) referring to “U.S.-led military operations whose purpose is to blockade the country.”
North Korea has sold missiles, missile parts or technology mainly to countries in the Middle East and Africa so far. It helped Iran build missile manufacturing facilities in the 1980s and has steadily been doing missile business with Iran ever since, the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) at the Monterey Institute of International Studies says. Egypt and Pakistan imported parts and technology of Scud and Rodong missiles from the North, and Yemen imported missiles from Pyongyang in 2002. Libya and Syria were or are involved in such transactions with the North.
The government expects that since the PSI aims to intercept all arms shipments from North Korea, the countries will find it hard to import weapons from the North. The initiative now backed by the resolution has in a preparatory status so far will begin its full-scale activities against the North. North Korean ships carrying WMD to countries in the Middle East and Africa would be subject to inspections by Japan, the Philippines, Singapore and Brunei, who have all joined the PSI, making it practically impossible for the North to export its weapons.
Intelligence authorities suspect that North Korea’s Scud missile with a range of 700 km has been exported to the Middle East for up to US$4 million a unit. Rodong missiles, which have a longer range than Scud, were priced at more than twice that. The Korean Institute for Defense Analysis says North Korea earns between $700 million and 1 billion a year from exporting weapons and trading drugs and counterfeit money. If the that dries up, it would deal another heavy blow to the North’s frail economy. Already financial sanctions prevent the North Korean regime from laundering money and conducting the illegal financial transactions it earned valuta by, and the PSI would virtually blockade the rest of its foreign currency earnings.
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