Guess again, during the Yom Kippur War of 1973, North Korea sent 20 pilots and 19 non-combat military advisors to Egypt. They deployed a MiG-21 squadron to Bir Arida to protect Egypt’s south, the first aerial engagement on the Egyptian front, took place on October 6th, when Israeli F-4s engaged North Korean-piloted MiG-21s. On October 19th, the NYT reported that the Soviet news agency TASS disclosed that Premier Kim Il-Sung had met with Egyptian and Syrian ambassadors in Pyongyang, promising “to give material assistance, including military aid” to them.
Over the years, North Korea has supplied various weapons, missile technologies, and NBC - Mass-Destruction – technologies, to several of Israel's enemies, including Iran, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Hezbollah and Hamas. For example, Libya had the same designs as North Korea for a 500-kilogram nuclear warhead missile, before Gaddafi shut down the program.
Because of the Syrian Civil War, the Assad regime has lost a lot of equipment. The North Koreans have replenished them with T-55 tanks (North Korean variants), trucks, RPGs and shoulder-fired missiles. According to North Korean expert, Bruce Bechtol, “if you look at the Syrian army, it is much like the North Korean one, based on legacy Soviet systems from the 1950s and 1960s.”
Syrian-North Korean nuclear cooperation can be clearly seen. On September 6, 2007, when the IAF attacked a target in the Deir ez-Zor region of Syria, it was reported that at least 10 North Koreans, who “had been helping with the construction of a nuclear reactor’’ were killed during the airstrike. The Syrian nuclear facility, was nearly identical to that of North Korea’s Yongbyon installation. According to reports, the facility was built by North Koreans and financed by Iran.
North Korea has forged a relationship with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) since 1983. North Korea sends weapons to Hezbollah via the IRGC trafficking network, or transfers them through Syria, or they are shipped directly from North Korea to Hezbollah in Lebanon, paid for by Iran.
Since 2003, North Korean engineers have built underground facilities for Hezbollah, directly into rock, some of which the IDF struggled to target, in the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Hezbollah has an entire underground “city” of command and control bunkers and tunnels in southern Lebanon, all built with the aid of the Iranians, who paid the Korean Mining Development Company to do it. North Korean technicians moved into Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, pretending to be Chinese domestic workers.
Hamas, like Hezbollah, has close links with North Korea, which is happy to support groups that are opposed to Western interests in the Middle East. The relationship between Hamas and North Korea first became public in 2009 when 35 tons of arms, including surface-to-surface rockets and rocket-propelled grenades, were seized after a cargo plane carrying the equipment was forced to make an emergency landing at Bangkok airport. Investigators later confirmed that the arms had been destined for Iran, who planned to transfer them to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza. In 2014, North Korea and Hamas struck a deal for the sale of 102mm and 107mm multiple rocket launchers. Hamas installed some of these systems on pickup trucks.
North Korea regularly condemns Israeli defensive actions against Hamas, such as during the 2008-2009 and 2014 Israel-Gaza conflicts, and the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid as “crimes against humanity,’’ as well as a threat to the Middle East Peace Process.
The North Koreans have one of the world’s most sophisticated network of tunnels running beneath the demilitarized zone with South Korea. The IDF believes Hamas has used this expertise to improve their own tunnel network in Gaza. For example, the type of cement reinforcement, enabling Hamas fighters to move weapons without detection by Israeli drones, is similar to North Korean tunnels.
Since then, North Korea has sold Iran Scud B, C, D, extended-range scuds, and played a central role in Iran’s domestic missile development program. They’ve helped Iran build the Safir two-stage missile and the Sejil solid fuel missile. Iran’s Imad and Shihab-3 ballistic missile programs are based on North Korea’s Nodong missile prototype, with an extended range.
North Korea has sent at least two long-range missile parts shipments to Iran in the past two years. Iranian technicians also traveled to North Korea for help in developing an 80-ton rocket booster.
Since the mid-2000s, Iran came up with an ingenious way to avoid US missile nonproliferation enforcement. It built Shihab-3 “factories,” which were actually North Korean-supervised assembly stations, allowing North Korea to smuggle the missiles in pieces. The components are assembled under the supervision of North Korean advisers. The same thing happens with the Scud D missiles in Syria, and with chemical weapons in Syria according to Bechtol.
Iran is still relying on parts coming over from North Korea. The North Koreans split them up into components – they are harder to detect that way. Without North Korea, Iran’s entire liquid fuel ballistic missile industry would grind to a halt, he said. The Assad regime, too, would lose its Scud missile program.
Bechtol claims the North Koreans helped Iran develop a nuclear warhead for the Nodong missile, and assisted with the Iranian plutonium reactor at Arak. “We know that the head of Iran’s highly enriched uranium program was in North Korea in 2013, likely to observe a uranium nuclear test,” he said.
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