Pyongyang Selling Missiles in Pieces: Report

From the Korea Times:

North Korea has recently changed its means of selling missiles to avoid interception, delivering them by air instead of by sea and in the form of components and equipment rather than complete products, a U.S.-based research organization said yesterday.
In its latest report, the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), headquartered in Monterey, California, said North Korea’s missile program appears to be under the command and control of its air force, not the army, an arrangement similar to Iran, which is believed to be buying missiles from the communist regime, according to the Yonhap News Agency in Seoul.

The report, called “CNS Resources on North Korea’s Ballistic Missile Program,” said that as Western opposition to the deliveries has increased, Pyongyang’s shipments have begun to be made by air rather than by sea, sometimes with the help of Moscow.

“Insome instances, this has been accomplished with private-sector Russian assistance, thereby calling into question the Russian government’s ability and/or willingness to control North Korea’s missile proliferation,” said the report.

The CNS Web site says the report was updated Aug. 11 this year.

North Korea also resorted to selling missile components and production equipment to clients, which include Iran, Pakistan and Syria, the report said.

“These changes will allow more rapid shipping deliveries, and interception of such shipments will become more difficult,” it said.

The CNS noted with interest that North Korea’s ballistic missiles appear to be under air force, not army, command and control.

It was Gen. Jo Myong-rok, then commander of the North Korean Air Force, who led a delegation to Iran in February 1994 to discuss testing of the Rodong missile in Iran, the report said.

“It should also be noted that Iranian ballistic missiles fall under the command and control of the air wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps,” it said.

North Korea’s missile program came under renewed scrutiny after the secretive regime test-fired seven missiles last month, ranging from versions of its short-range Rodong to its long-rang Taepodong presumed to be able to strike the U.S. west coast.

The CNS said that while the test launches suggest advances in North Korea’s missile capabilities, there are still several technical hurdles before the long-range versions can be fielded.

“The developmental leaps to successful multiple stage systems using large rocket motors cannot be achieved without external technological assistance,” it said.

“Some of this assistance is probably being provided by Russian specialists, both in North Korea and Russia,” said the report, due mainly to Moscow’s inability to completely halt the leakage of information.

It added that while the shorter-range Rodong missiles are operational, since it has exported some to Iran, Pakistan and other nations, “it may not have enough missiles to field a full brigade.”


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