North Korea has chemical weapons

Do the Syrian chemical weapons come from North Korea?

The US government continued to sanction Syria for poison gas attacks, while the "rogue states" selected by Trump are linked via weapons of mass destruction

After US President Donald Trump ordered the attack with the 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on the Syrian air base while he ate the best chocolate cake in the world with his Chinese colleague Xi Jinping, Kim Jong-un quickly showed solidarity with Bashar al-Assad. The two had previously congratulated each other and their countries. After the attack, Kim said with best regards on the founding year of the Syrian Ba'ath Party: "The friendly relations between the two countries will be strengthened and further developed in view of their struggle against imperialism."

Assad thanked him and then wrote again to congratulate the 105th anniversary of state founder Kim Il-sung and the 5th anniversary of the "election" of Kim Jong-un as ruler. The two friendly countries would celebrate this anniversary and at the same time "wage a war against the wild ambition of great powers to submit all countries to their expansionist and world-dominating policies".

From Washington's point of view, Syria and North Korea belong to the "axis of evil" alongside Iran and are now moving closer together against the threat. However, there have been suspicions that the solidarity of the two rulers who have been declared villains will continue. Last year, for example, there were rumors that North Korean troops or helicopter pilots would assist the Assad armed forces. Earlier there was talk of the military advisors present. However, this has not yet been proven.

There were also rumors that North Korea and Syria may have cooperated on nuclear weapons programs, such as the alleged al-Kibar nuclear facility, which was bombed and destroyed by Israeli planes (Wasn't Israel's air strike aimed at Syrian nuclear reactor?).

Military cooperation dates back to the Cold War in the 1960s, when North Korea supplied arms and other military goods to Syria. In particular, North Korea is said to have helped with missiles and the development of the Syrian poison gas program. However, North Korea declares that it has no chemical weapons of its own. However, there are reports that, while chemical weapons are aging, North Korea is believed to have purchased tons of components for manufacturing from China and Malaysia in 2004 as well.

However, the South Korean Ministry of Defense claimed in 2012 that North Korea had stored between 2,500 and 5,000 tons of chemical weapons such as sarin, VX and other nerve agents. This can of course be exaggerated and the information can be driven by political interests. Before that there was talk of 12,000 tons.

In any case, North Korea did not sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, which came into force in 1997 - as was the case with Syria in 2013 under pressure from Russia and the USA. According to the regulation, no chemical weapons may be manufactured, stored, distributed or used, all stocks must be destroyed, and unhindered access to storage facilities and destruction facilities for inspectors is a condition. Israel has signed the convention but has still not ratified it.

In addition to North Korea, Egypt and South Sudan have neither signed nor ratified the convention (member states). The Pentagon declared in 2012 that it had destroyed almost 90 percent of chemical weapons (27,000 tons). Russia claims to have destroyed 86 percent of its chemical weapons in 2015. Actually, all of them should have been destroyed by 2012. Nevertheless, Russia, the USA and North Korea are the countries with the most chemical weapons.

North Korea in the international arms trade

Despite the UN resolution of 2009, North Korea seems to continue to sell weapons to Syria - but also to Eritrea. In 2012, for example, a ship was intercepted off the South Korean coast with missile parts for Syria. In the same year, a North Korean plane was banned from flying to Syria via Iraq. Arms deliveries were also suspected.

According to a UN report, the North Korean secret service has set up companies in Malaysia to distribute military goods. Malaysia was one of the states that is at least loosely connected to North Korea, at least until Kim Sung-il's half-brother was openly murdered at Kuala Lumpur airport in February - with VX, a nerve agent.

There will also be a branch in Singapore that will sell remote controls for precision missiles. North Korea is said to be dealing with encrypted communication systems, precision missiles and air defense systems. Last year, a North Korean ship was searched by Egyptian security forces while trying to cross the Suez Canal. Large quantities of ammunition were found, including 30,000 rocket propelled grenades (RPG).

Relations with Syria were not mentioned here. However, there were incidents that could indicate continued cooperation with Syria. In 2009, 14,000 chemical protective suits were confiscated on a North Korean ship that was supposedly going to Syria. And in 2013, Turkey confiscated weapons, ammunition and gas masks on a ship flying the Libyan flag, which, according to the captain, were to be delivered to Syria via Turkey, and possibly also to the rebels.

Is the strategy to overturn two states in one fell swoop?

Bruce Bechtol, a political professor at Angelo State University, who publishes books on North Korea and previously worked as a marine and as an employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), issued a warning. As early as 2015, he described the capabilities of how North Korea can bomb with its artillery far into South Korea and also reach Seoul. The strength of the well-trained and armed North Korean special forces is said to be around 200,000 soldiers, and they are to penetrate South Korea in the event of a conflict.

Bechtol claims that arms deals with Syria are a "gold mine for North Korea" that supplies almost as many weapons to Damascus as Iran. Syrians would visit North Korea more often for arms deals, but this is hardly noticed. Two years ago, he said the South Koreans should watch chemical weapons be used in Syria "because this is likely a training ground for future North Korean actions in the conflict with the south."

North Korea would also learn from the war in Syria. In addition, North Korea could carry out missile and nuclear weapons tests not only to provoke and deter them, but also to promote its weapons and sell them better. Without any evidence, Bechtol wants to bring North Korea together with the poison gas attacks in Syria. North Korea has always been Syria's main supplier of chemical weapons. He would be surprised if the April 4th attack in Khan Sheikhun had not been carried out using poison gas from North Korea.

However, there are other suppliers, so it was announced in 2013 that between 2002 and 2006 German companies delivered chemicals to Syria that could have been used both for civil purposes, e.g. for the production of toothpaste or insect repellants, as well as for the production of the nerve gas sarin. The export had been approved by the then red-green and then by the black-red government. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) was head of the Federal Chancellery in the red-green federal government and foreign minister in the black-red federal government.

There seems to be a tendency to increase pressure on Syria and North Korea at the same time because the two regimes are linked by chemical and nuclear weapons of mass destruction. The US government has now imposed new sanctions on the Syrian government and 271 scientists and technicians involved in weapons programs. This underscores the fact that the Trump administration is sticking to the fact that the Syrian government is behind the poison gas attack. In Washington one assumes - or wants to assume - that Syria has not had all chemical weapons destroyed and is continuing a chemical weapons program.

Yesterday, Donald Trump also declared that North Korea was "a real threat to the world". He called for further sanctions; "The status quo in North Korea is unacceptable." For decades people have closed their eyes, now it is time to solve the problem.

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