N.Korea 'Helped Syria Build Missile Factory'

Syria built a secret missile assembly line with the help of North Korea and Iran, German daily Die Welt claimed last Friday.

The daily said North Korea provided the technology to manufacture maraging steel, which is a restricted material under the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime. It can be used for missile skins and centrifuges critical in uranium enrichment.

Citing unspecified "Western security sources," the daily also claimed Syria is attempting to provide militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon with M-600 missiles with range of 250-300 km after reinforcing their warheads and combustion tubes with maraging steel. It said this would be in violation of UN Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874 banning the North from arms exports.

According to the Times of London, the plant is near the Syrian city of Homs under the supervision of the Syrian Scientific Research Center, and Iran bore some expenses for building it. In addition to the maraging steel technology, the North also provided construction equipment. Die Welt said North Korean engineers will also help the Syrians with production processes, wastes management and quality control.

Materials for the facilities were delivered in 2009, the sources said, and a significant portion has now been completed. The sources predicted that this plant will start operation within a year and a half.

The paper speculated that Israel will come within range of Scud-D missiles if maraging steel is used.

englishnews@chosun.com / Nov. 28, 2011 09:49 KST