Syria Enhanced Weapons Procurement From N Korea to Deter NATO: Source

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tokyo- (PanOrient News) The Syrian government instructed its Center for Scientific Studies and Research (SSRC) to procure more weapons and military supplies from North Korea around April while cracking down on antigovernment protests, Kyodo News quoted unnamed diplomatic source as saying on Sunday.

This move, according to the well-versed in the Middle East situation source, is taken apparently for fear that the United States and other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) might conduct a military intervention in Syria to end the brutal clampdown on protesters by the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

"The SSRC, which is in charge of developing and manufacturing Scud D ballistic missiles, received instructions from the Syrian Defense Ministry to conduct training in the event of NATO airstrikes and maintain good relations also with Iran to obtain small arms and other combat supplies," the anonymous source said.

The United States and some Middle Eastern countries are concerned that the arms from North Korea could be used against protesters or get into the hands of Shiite Islamist group Hezbollah, based in neighboring Lebanon, Kyodo said.

Korea Mining Development Trading Corp., or KOMID, considered postponing its planned dispatch of technicians due to public security concerns but they were sent to Syria on April 25 at the urging of Damascus to check on the progress of the country's arms development program and for bilateral negotiations, said the source. KOMID is North Korea's key firm involved in arms transactions.

Scud D missiles with a range of about 700 kilometers are reportedly capable of hitting targets in Israel, Jordan and Turkey, and could be used to deter Western countries from intervening in Syria militarily. The anonymous source quoted by Kyodo claimed that Syria has transferred 10 Scud D missiles to Hezbollah and that North Korea's assistance has become indispensable for the country, adding it needs Pyongyang's permission in arming Hezbollah with the missiles.

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