Neutralize North Korea

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s five-day visit to China constitutes a crucial opportunity to stop the flow of nuclear technology from North Korea to Iran.

New North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS)
New North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s five-day visit to China constitutes a crucial opportunity to stop the flow of nuclear technology from North Korea to Iran. With Iran boosting uranium enrichment and the red line set by Netanyahu approaching, it is absolutely vital to convince China it must immediately stop acting as a hub for North Korea’s nuclear proliferation activities. China has to stop turning a blind eye to Iranian nuclear scientists visiting North Korea via Chinese airports, and prevent the smuggling of nuclear technology by North Korea’s state-owned airline, Air Koryo. The airline is blacklisted by the EU and banned from operating in European airspace because of safety concerns, and China must follow suit, before disaster strikes its airports.
The world’s attention is focused on North Korea’s bellicose rhetoric, threatening to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the US, but few people in the Far East take it seriously. People in neighboring countries know North Korea’s sole aim is regime survival, and that it cannot use nuclear weapons, which would be suicidal.
However, North Korea poses a clear and present danger to Israel, thousand of miles away. The real threat posed by North Korea is its willingness to sell nuclear technology and nuclear weapons to fanatics who are eager to use them against innocent people.
North Koreans were bold enough to build a nuclear reactor in Syria, which was successfully destroyed by the Israel Air Force. Even after the Israeli air-strike, they continued to sell weapons of mass destruction to the Assad regime. In May 2012, South Korean customs officials found missile parts in a Chinese vessel en route to Syria from North Korea.
Media reports say Katyusha rockets fired into Israel by Hezbollah during the 2006 Lebanon War originated in North Korea, and in 2009 victims of Hezbollah terror attacks filed civil action in the US against the North Korean government, alleging it had trained senior Hezbollah members and provided networks of underground storage bunkers for rocket launchers.
The Jerusalem Post reported that in 2009, Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadin, then the head of Military Intelligence, said Hamas and Hezbollah representatives regularly attended weapons tests in Syria and Iran where North Korean engineers and scientists were present.
In December 2009, 35 tons of North Korean weapons, including rockets and rocket-propelled grenades, were seized on a cargo plane when it landed in Bangkok, Thailand. Foreign minister Avigdor Liberman told the media a few months later that the weapons were headed for Hamas and Hezbollah.
In 2010 President Shimon Peres said North Korea had become a “duty-free shop for long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.” He explained that “these weapons flow straight to Iran, who arms and strengthens the world’s global terror network, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and other groups in Syria.”
THE MOST alarming fact is that North Korea is selling nuclear technology to Iran. In 2011, Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun reported that Iran and North Korea are jointly operating nuclear research laboratories, and that North Korea had provided Iran with a nuclear development software called MCNPX2.6.0 for analysis. The report says that about 10 North Korean nuclear scientists are present at the laboratories advising and guiding Iranian scientists.
In September 2012, Iran and North Korea signed a scientific and technological cooperation agreement in the presence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and North Korean parliamentary head Kim Yong Nam. In a separate meeting, Ahmadinejad said the visit of North Koreans would have a “great impact on strengthening bilateral ties, expanding cooperation and boosting the anti-hegemonic front.”
The US and UN officials pointed out that wording of the agreement closely resembled the wording of the agreement North Korea signed with Syria in 2002, before building a nuclear reactor there. It was also Kim Yong Nam who led the North Korean delegation to Syria in 2002.
In December 2012, UPI reported that Iranian missile experts from the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group had traveled to North Korea to assist with North Korea’s ballistic missile tests, that violated UN resolutions.
In February of this year, The Sunday Times and Fox News reported that Iran’s leading nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, blacklisted by UN Security Council resolution 1747, was present at North Korea’s nuclear test on 11 February, and that he traveled via China.
Former senior US diplomat and ambassador Thomas Graham, who has advised five US presidents on issues related to nuclear non-proliferation, told Fox News: “If the assessments are correct as to his [Fakhrizadeh’s] role in the Iranian nuclear program, if China knowingly permitted him transfer from Iran across China to witness the North Korea test... then it would appear that China or at least some elements in China are cooperating with nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran... Iranian missiles were developed from North Korean prototypes. It could appear that North Korea is building nuclear weapons for transfer to Iran... North Korea might even agree to store the Iranian weapons produced with Iranian money.”
My source says North Korea uses stateowned Air Koryo to transfer nuclear technology.
Less important weapons such as assault rifles are smuggled by surface vessels and are sometimes caught, but the most sensitive nuclear technology has not been seized thanks to China’s acquiescence.
China must refuse entry to Air Koryo not only for safety reasons but because it carries nuclear scientists and nuclear technology in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
If China does not ban Air Koryo, or at least search all cargo and prohibit the transit of all North Korean and Iranian scientists, then China would be complicit in Iran’s grisly plan to kill millions of civilians.
There were four Chinese companies sanctioned by the US government in February this year for violating the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act, including major arms firm Poly Technologies Inc. The public notice states that their sales violated the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other international programs aimed at curbing the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. As the international community has been repeatedly demanding, China has to comply with the international rules and standards, especially when civilian lives are in danger.
Destroying the China route will be a significant blow to North Korea’s nuclear proliferation network, but unfortunately will not destroy it. Any agreement with the rogue state would not be effective either. In stark contrast to the Jewish state, the North Korean government does not abide by contracts and has cheated the US government many times. For over 60 years, North Korea has been engaged in illicit activities such as drug trafficking and arms sales, it has became a part of their culture, and the only way to stop their proliferation activities is to remove the regime in Pyongyang.
In order to bring down the regime, I believe discovering and freezing the regime’s offshore bank accounts is the most effective method; the leadership needs hard currency to buy the loyalty of high-ranking officials. The North Korean regime has deposited some $4 billion, amassed by illicit means, in secret bank accounts in Europe and elsewhere, when over two million of its people have died of hunger.
I have been writing thousands of letters to governments, parliamentarians and bankers throughout the world to freeze North Korean bank accounts, and in April this year, the US Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, David Cohen, publicly admitted that “we are very actively looking for where that money may be.”
It would also be effective to expose the regime’s illicit activities and destroy their foreign currency revenue. Last year I discovered that two North Korean operatives belonging to the Second Economic Committee of the National Defense Commission organization, that it is believed “plays the largest and most prominent role in nuclear, other WMD and missile-related development programs,” are using Seychellois and Kiribati passports. The media reported their names, addresses and passport numbers, causing significant damage to North Korea’s secret operations.
I am sure if Israel could use its influence, the nuclear proliferator would be neutralized for good and the world would be a safer place. ■
The author is a Japanese human rights activist and an investigator of North Korea’s nuclear-related activities.