Syria - Google Earth - November 28, 2011
The secret base in the Taqsis mountains, Syria. Photo by Google Earth
Text size

North Korea has supplied Syria and Iran with a special kind of steel used to upgrading missiles and building centrifuges for uranium enrichment, the German newspaper Die Welt reported over the weekend.

The material, called maraging steel, appears on the monitoring list of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime, and its export is prohibited to countries under sanctions such as Iran.

It has been known for years that Iran is trying to obtain the steel through its clandestine purchasing networks around the world. The steel would enable Tehran to construct modified centrifuges, which would in turn allow it to enrich higher quality Uranium at a faster speed.

According to the report, the delivery of the steel is part of a wider North Korean expertise package to Syria, which is building a new missile factory near Homs. According to other reports, the factory is partly funded by Iran, and is expected to become operational within 18 months.

Maraging steel would significantly upgrade Syria’s Scud missile capabilities and the amount of damage their warheads could inflict.

The German newspaper, citing unnamed “Western security sources,” also reported that Syria is trying to supply Hezbollah with M-600 missiles, that have a range of up to 300 kilometers. These would be equipped with warheads that were upgraded using maraging steel.

Several UN resolutions forbid North Korea from exporting weapons or weapons technology.

Also on Monday, a top Israeli security official said that a recent explosion that rocked an Iranian missile base near Tehran could delay or stop further Iranian surface-to-surface missile development.

Earlier this month, Iran reiterated that the explosion at a military base near Tehran that killed 17 members of the Revolutionary Guards was an accident.

It says that contrary to media speculation, the blast, which also killed a missile expert, was not carried out by Israel or the United States.

Speaking at a meeting of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, head of the research department of Israel's military intelligence said that while the blast may have stalled some avenues of Iranian weapons development, it was from stopping all of the Islamic Republic's options.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: צפון קוריאה סיפקה לאיראן וסוריה מתכת מתקדמת לתעשיית הגרעין והטילים