Comment: The North Korean threat to Israel

Indeed, North Korea is directly linked to just about every menace facing Israel, and it is time for the Jewish state to do something about this threat.

Kim Jong-un, North Korea leader (photo credit: KNS / KCNA / AFP)
Kim Jong-un, North Korea leader
(photo credit: KNS / KCNA / AFP)
Although Israel faces numerous threats at home and abroad, one of our most unsung enemies is the one that is perhaps furthest away: Kim Jong Un’s dictatorial regime in North Korea.
Nearly 8,000 km separate Jerusalem from Pyongyang, but that hasn’t stopped the North Korean government from going out of its way to side with Israel’s foes, regularly providing them with military training and support and even selling them nuclear know-how and ballistic missile technology.
Indeed, North Korea is directly linked to just about every menace facing Israel, and it is time for the Jewish state to do something about this threat.
The latest example of Kim’s dangerous Middle East meddling was on display this past Saturday in Iran, where the ayatollahs unveiled their new Fateh 313 surface-to-surface missile together with the Simorgh launching platform, which is said to bear a striking resemblance to North Korea’s own technology.
The similarity isn’t coincidental.
As the US Congressional Research Service (CRS) noted in a report on May 11, “ballistic missile technology cooperation” between Teheran and Pyongyang “is significant and meaningful.”
The collaboration between the two rogue regimes also extends to the subterranean sphere, where North Korea has decades of experience in building tunnels and other military facilities beneath the surface aimed at neighboring South Korea.
As the Weekly Standard revealed last year, the North Koreans have not been shy about sharing their tunneling expertise. “Their top customer is the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the magazine concluded, citing North Korea expert Bruce Bechtol, who said that Pyongyang has also helped to construct some of the Iranians’ underground nuclear weapons installations.
Needless to say, both Hamas and Hezbollah have benefited from North Korea’s tunnel tutelage as well.
This became apparent during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when Hezbollah utilized an extensive system of tunnels in the conflict with Israel, as well as during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza last year, when Hamas sought to do the same.
One year ago, this prompted a US federal judge to hold North Korea and Iran liable for their support of Hezbollah during the war, which he said included assistance “in building a massive network of underground military installations, tunnels, bunkers, depots and storage facilities in southern Lebanon.”
North Korea has also served as a mentor for Israel’s enemies. As Bechtol points out in his book, Defiant Failed State: the North Korean Threat to International Security, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah spent several months in North Korea in the late 1980s receiving terrorist training.
And in recent years, a number of North Korean ships have been interdicted and were found to be carrying illicit weapons intended for Hamas and Hezbollah.
The nefarious activities of the Kim regime have also extended to Syria, which has been a prime beneficiary of North Korea’s penchant for mischief abroad.
In June 2013, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights revealed that North Korean military officers were assisting the Assad regime with its attempt to quash various Syrian rebel groups. North Korean soldiers are said to have been providing Assad’s troops with logistical support, creating operational plans for them and even supervising Syrian government artillery attacks against the opposition.
And Syria’s government has, in the words of the CRS, “received ballistic missiles and related technology from North Korea.”
For example, it is widely believed that the Syrian nuclear reactor that was reportedly destroyed by Israel in September 2007 was being built with North Korean assistance.
So in just about every hotspot in the Middle East, North Korea has joined forces with the bad guys, from Hamas in Gaza to Hezbollah in Lebanon to Assad in Damascus and the Ayatollahs in Teheran.
Pyongyang even came to Islamic State’s defense last year, denouncing US-led air raids against the group as “state terrorism.”
Kim Jong Un may be pudgy and puerile, but he is perilous too, and not only to his immediate neighbors.
North Korea is unabashedly arming Israel’s enemies, selling or transferring nuclear and missile technology to them and providing political and diplomatic support for their assaults against the Jewish state.
Clearly, North Korean poses a threat to the Jewish state. By backing Hamas and Hezbollah, Pyongyang has Jewish blood on its hands. And by advancing the Iranian and Syrian nuclear programs, it has contributed to the destabilization of the entire Middle East.
It is therefore essential that Israel take a more forceful public stand against the Kim regime. Jerusalem should continue to bolster relations with South Korea, and put together a comprehensive strategy for countering Pyongyang’s troublemaking in the Middle East.
South Korea and Israel share an intriguing number of similarities. Both are heirs to ancient civilizations that have carved out vibrant democracies in difficult neighborhoods while simultaneously building dynamic, modern economies despite a lack of natural resources.
And of course we share a common foe in the form of the North Korean regime, whose bellicosity and unpredictability stretch across the globe.
It is therefore in Israel’s interest to further deepen its alliance with Seoul and to cease ignoring the danger from Pyongyang.
For however distant it might seem, Kim Jong Un’s irascible regime is clearly out to hurt the Jewish state.