Israel has told the United Nations Security Council's North Korea sanctions panel that ballistic missile proliferation by Pyongyang is destabilizing the Middle East and has urged countries to step up efforts to stop it.
"Israel would like to express its ongoing concern regarding the proliferation of ballistic missiles from North Korea, and to encourage the international community to strengthen its efforts in response to these dangers," Israel's UN mission said in a letter to the North Korea sanctions committee that was sent last week but published on Friday.
"Israel is particularly concerned by the dangerous effects of the proliferation activities of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [North Korea] on the stability and the peace efforts in the Middle East," said the letter.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in May that a shipment of North Korean weapons, including rockets and rocket-propelled grenades, seized in Thailand last December was headed for Islamist groups Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
He also said North Korea was providing Iran and Syria with aid for their missile programs.
Pyongyang was hit with fresh UN sanctions last year to punish it for a nuclear test in May 2009, which marked its second atomic detonation. The expanded measures were aimed at cutting off North Korea's arms sales, a vital export estimated to earn the destitute state more than $1 billion a year.
North Korea's biggest arm sales come from ballistic missiles, with Iran and other Middle Eastern states as customers, according to U.S. government officials.
Iran is also under sanctions for refusing to halt sensitive parts of its nuclear program that could be used to produce atomic weapon fuel. Tehran rejects Western allegations that its nuclear program is aimed at producing arms.
A UN panel of experts delivered a report to the North Korea sanctions committee in May that suggested North Korea has been using front companies to export nuclear and missile technology worldwide and has helped Iran, Syria and Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma.
Meanwhile, the United States said on Friday it had no interest in getting into a "war of words" with North Korea, following a North Korean threat to launch a "sacred war" against the United States and its ally, South Korea.
"We are not interested in a war of words with North Korea. What we need from North Korea is fewer provocative words and more constructive action," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said when asked to respond to the North Korean comment.
North Korea said earlier it would begin a "sacred war" against the United States and South Korea at "any time necessary," based on its nuclear deterrent, in response to "reckless" military exercises by the allies.
The North's powerful National Defense Commission again denied in a statement the country was behind the sinking of a South Korean warship and said it could be forced to retaliate against the two countries, which begin large-scale military drills on Sunday.
"The army and people of the DPRK will start a retaliatory sacred war of their own style based on nuclear deterrent any time necessary in order to counter the U.S. imperialists and the South Korean puppet forces deliberately pushing the situation to the brink of a war," the commission said.
The statement was part of a verbal onslaught by the North after a South Korea-led team of investigators concluded in May that a North Korean submarine had torpedoed a South Korean warship in March, killing 46 sailors.
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