JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday accused nuclear power North Korea of supplying Syria with weapons of mass destruction.
Lieberman’s office quoted him as telling Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama at a meeting in Tokyo that such activity threatened to destabilise east Asia as well as the Middle East.
“The cooperation between Syria and North Korea is not focused on economic development and growth but rather on weapons of mass destruction” Lieberman said.
In evidence he cited the December 2009 seizure at Bangkok airport of an illicit North Korean arms shipment which US intelligence said was bound for an unnamed Middle East country.
Lieberman said Syria intended to pass the weapons on to the Lebanese Hezbollah militia and to the Islamic Hamas movement, which rules Gaza and has its political headquarters in Damascus.
“This cooperation endangers stability in both southeast Asia and also in the Middle East and is against all the accepted norms in the international arena,” Lieberman was quoted as telling Hatoyama.
Thai officials at the time said that acting on a tipoff from Washington they confiscated about 30 tonnes of missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons when the North Korean plane landed for refuelling in Bangkok.
Israel has accused North Korea in the past of transferring nuclear technology to Syria, which is technically in a state of war with the neighbouring Jewish state, although the two last fought openly in 1973.
Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper reported in 2007 that Israel seized North Korean nuclear material in a commando raid on a secret military site in Syria and then destroyed the site in an air attack.
Syria denied the report.
The communist regime in North Korea has denied collaborating on nuclear activity with Syria, while Israel has maintained an official silence on the reported September 2007 raid and strike.