North Korea and Syria: A Chemical Weapons and Missiles Dynamic Duo?

2018/03/1521268650.jpg
Read: 656     09:49     17 March 2018    

A newly released UN report highlights the longstanding ties between North Korea and Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.


The annual report is by the eight-person Panel of Experts that reports to the UN Security Council. The report is dated March 5, 2018 but appears to have only been released publicly this week. The report notes that the longstanding ties between Syria and North Korea appear to be intensifying as Pyongyang comes under growing international pressure because of its nuclear and missile programs and Damascus continues to fight a civil war.

“More than 40 previously unreported shipments from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the Syrian Arab Republic between 2012 and 2017 by entities designated by the Member States as front companies for the Scientific Studies Research Center of the Syrian Arab Republic,” the report states. The Scientist Studies Research Center is responsible for “new research and development of nuclear, biological, chemical, and missile-related technology” in Syria, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a Washington, DC-based NGO. These shipments include chemical weapon and ballistic missile components and have been previously reported by Reuters and the New York Times. Two of the shipments were interdicted and included components that could be used for a chemical weapons production plant.

Of particular concern, the report notes that a North Korean official was “involved” in Syria’s build a manoeuvrable re-entry (MaRV) vehicle for one of its Scud ballistic missiles. Manoeuvrable re-entry vehicles allow ballistic missiles to achieve greater accuracy while also evading ballistic missile defence systems. North Korea tested a MaRVed Scud missile last year.

The relationship between Syria and North Korea is nothing new, dating at least as far back as the 1960s. According to the New York Times, North Korean pilots flew alongside the Syrian Air Force during wars against Israel in the 1960s and 1970s, although the North Koreans were probably flying Egyptian planes.

Pyongyang has also provided significant assistance to Syria’s ballistic missile program. This element of the relationship likely began in the 1980s with the sale of Scud-B missiles to Syria. Next up, North Korea sold Syria its No Dong missile. The No Dong is a medium-range mobile liquid-fueled missile that is believed to have been derived from the Hwasong-6 (Scud-C). North Korea has sold the same missile to Iran (where it is called the Shahab-3) and Pakistan (where it is called Gahuri). According to some sources, Syria began purchasing 150 Nodong missiles from North Korea in the early 1990s, with help from countries like Libya.

Later Syria either purchased the longer-range Scud-D missile from North Korea or got help modifying the Scud-C missiles to give them greater guidance systems and range. These were first tested around the turn of the century, and a later test in 2005 went awry when parts of the missile landed in Turkey. Israel maintained at that time that Syria intended to use the Scud-Ds to deliver air-burst chemical weapons. It is the Scud-D missile that the UN report says Syria is trying to build manoeuvrable re-entry vehicles for.

National Interest



Tags: NorthKorea   Syria  



News Line

North Korea and Syria: A Chemical Weapons and Missiles Dynamic Duo?

2018/03/1521268650.jpg
Read: 657     09:49     17 March 2018    

A newly released UN report highlights the longstanding ties between North Korea and Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.


The annual report is by the eight-person Panel of Experts that reports to the UN Security Council. The report is dated March 5, 2018 but appears to have only been released publicly this week. The report notes that the longstanding ties between Syria and North Korea appear to be intensifying as Pyongyang comes under growing international pressure because of its nuclear and missile programs and Damascus continues to fight a civil war.

“More than 40 previously unreported shipments from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the Syrian Arab Republic between 2012 and 2017 by entities designated by the Member States as front companies for the Scientific Studies Research Center of the Syrian Arab Republic,” the report states. The Scientist Studies Research Center is responsible for “new research and development of nuclear, biological, chemical, and missile-related technology” in Syria, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a Washington, DC-based NGO. These shipments include chemical weapon and ballistic missile components and have been previously reported by Reuters and the New York Times. Two of the shipments were interdicted and included components that could be used for a chemical weapons production plant.

Of particular concern, the report notes that a North Korean official was “involved” in Syria’s build a manoeuvrable re-entry (MaRV) vehicle for one of its Scud ballistic missiles. Manoeuvrable re-entry vehicles allow ballistic missiles to achieve greater accuracy while also evading ballistic missile defence systems. North Korea tested a MaRVed Scud missile last year.

The relationship between Syria and North Korea is nothing new, dating at least as far back as the 1960s. According to the New York Times, North Korean pilots flew alongside the Syrian Air Force during wars against Israel in the 1960s and 1970s, although the North Koreans were probably flying Egyptian planes.

Pyongyang has also provided significant assistance to Syria’s ballistic missile program. This element of the relationship likely began in the 1980s with the sale of Scud-B missiles to Syria. Next up, North Korea sold Syria its No Dong missile. The No Dong is a medium-range mobile liquid-fueled missile that is believed to have been derived from the Hwasong-6 (Scud-C). North Korea has sold the same missile to Iran (where it is called the Shahab-3) and Pakistan (where it is called Gahuri). According to some sources, Syria began purchasing 150 Nodong missiles from North Korea in the early 1990s, with help from countries like Libya.

Later Syria either purchased the longer-range Scud-D missile from North Korea or got help modifying the Scud-C missiles to give them greater guidance systems and range. These were first tested around the turn of the century, and a later test in 2005 went awry when parts of the missile landed in Turkey. Israel maintained at that time that Syria intended to use the Scud-Ds to deliver air-burst chemical weapons. It is the Scud-D missile that the UN report says Syria is trying to build manoeuvrable re-entry vehicles for.

National Interest



Tags: NorthKorea   Syria