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Israel accuses N. Korea of selling arms in Mideast

Ambassador says the regime is also giving nuclear know-how to nations in the region.

October 05, 2008|From the Associated Press

VIENNA — Israel accused North Korea on Saturday of covertly supplying at least half a dozen Middle East countries with nuclear technology or conventional arms.

The allegation was made at an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in Vienna, where world powers urged North Korea to stop reactivation of its nuclear weapons program.

"The Middle East remains on the receiving end of the DPRK's reckless activities," Israeli delegate David Danieli said at the meeting.

"At least half a dozen countries in the region . . . have become eager recipients" of North Korea's conventional arms or nuclear technology, he said -- mostly "through black market and covert network channels."

Danieli did not name any of the suspected countries, but he appeared to be referring in part to Iran and Syria, which are both under IAEA investigation, and Libya, which scrapped its rudimentary nuclear arms program after revealing it in 2003.

U.S. officials have said that North Korea's customer list for missiles or related components going back to the mid-1980s also includes Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The Israeli accusations came a day after U.S. chief nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill returned from North Korea, where he had hoped to salvage a disarmament pact.

North Korea recently reversed a process to dismantle its nuclear facilities as it agreed to do under the pact. The State Department said Friday that the communist nation was continuing work to restore those facilities even after Hill's visit.

According to U.S. officials and outside experts, North Korea has sold military products to at least 18 countries, mainly in Africa and the Middle East, and in mostly covert transactions.

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