Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Research Report

North Korea and the Middle East

Alon Levkowitz
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2017
Pages: 41

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. (pp. 1-4)
  2. (pp. 5-6)
  3. (pp. 7-8)
    Alon Levkowitz
  4. (pp. 9-10)
    Alon Levkowitz

    On September 6, 2007, Israeli Air Force (IAF) fighter jets destroyed the Deir ez-Zor nuclear site in Syria, built with North Korean assistance.¹ Dubbed Operation Orchard, the attack demonstrated Israel's policy of preventing any attempt by Middle Eastern states to acquire nuclear capabilities. It also confirmed that Pyongyang was exporting not just conventional weapons to the Middle East, but nuclear weapons that threaten Israel’s national security.

    Operation Orchard took place thirteen years after President Bill Clinton made the following statement about the nuclear agreement between the US and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (October 18, 1994):

    Today, after 16...

  5. (pp. 11-12)

    North Korea has been a military exporter since the 1980s, particularly to Third World states, with ninety percent of its arms sales going to the Middle East and North Africa. For the most part, these were states that had difficulty obtaining conventional and unconventional weapons and military technologies from other sources due to UN sanctions or greatpower unwillingness to sell to them.

    Pyongyang offered its clients several advantages. First, it was willing to sell its military products at lower prices than those prevailing in the global market. Second, it had no political interest in influencing its buyers. (In the case...

  6. (pp. 13-19)

    Relations between Pyongyang and Damascus began in 1966, when the two states established diplomatic relations.13 Both were allies of the Soviet Union and belonged to the same Cold War camp.

    Shortly after the establishment of relations, North Korea sent 25 pilots to Syria to participate in the June 1967 war against Israel. After the war, Pyongyang sent more pilots, soldiers, and technicians to assist Syria. In the October 1973 war, North Korea sent pilots to fly combat missions with the Syrian and Egyptian air forces.14

    Since that period, bilateral relations have been upgraded to include political, economic, and military cooperation....

  7. (pp. 19-23)

    Pyongyang’s relationship with Tehran poses a challenge to Israel, the GCC states (mainly Saudi Arabia), and the US – even after the P5+1 agreement, which few believe will alter Iran's foreign and security policies.45 The two states’ involvement in the Syrian civil war is of serious concern to these countries. According to P5+1, Iran may not build up its nuclear military program, and may improve its centrifuges solely for non-military purposes for at least 10 years. Iran can, however, become a threshold state without breaching the agreement by developing its nuclear military program beyond its territory – in North Korea,...

  8. (pp. 23-29)

    Although the state of Israel and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea do not share a common border (they are almost 8,000 km apart), Jerusalem considers the DPRK a potential security threat, both directly and indirectly.

    To begin with, since the late 1960s, delegations of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and other Palestinian militant organizations have visited North Korea and received political support, military training, and ammunition.74 For its part, Pyongyang viewed its military support to these organizations as part of its fight against “American imperialism.”75 The PFLP’s notorious May 1972 terror...

  9. (pp. 29-30)

    North Korea has been very active militarily in the Middle East over the decades, from sending pilots to assist Egypt and Syria in the October 1973 war to cooperating with Damascus on a nuclear reactor in the new millennium. Pyongyang has sold missiles of different ranges as well as light ammunition to Middle Eastern states, and has even sold to terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

    Pyongyang’s technological advancement has allowed it to develop submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and missiles that can carry nuclear bombs. Its military exports to the Middle East and North Africa,...

  10. (pp. 31-39)
  11. (pp. 40-40)