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January 13, 2003

Korea marketing improved Scuds to Mideast

LONDON — North Korea is marketing upgraded Scud-class missile to Middle East clients, according to reports confirmed by South Korea's Defense Ministry.

Western industry sources said Pyongyang has been offering such countries as Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen a more accurate version of the Scud B missile.

South Korea has confirmed the assertion by the industry sources. The Defense Ministry in Seoul said North Korea has been reproducing Soviet-era Scud B missiles. These missiles have a range of 300 kilometers and a payload of one metric ton.

North Korea is expected to accelerate its marketing of missiles and weapons of mass destruction in the wake of its dispute with the West regarding Pyongyang's nuclear program. Pyongyang has also suggested that it would end a moratorium on intermediate-range missile testing, Middle East Newsline reported.

The sources said the Scud B would maintain the range and payload of the original version but would include technology developed by North Korea.

"The idea is to offer new and improved Scud Bs that would replace the aging arsenals of Middle East countries, which first procured the missile in the 1970s," an industry source said. "The idea is to keep the price of the missile cheap."

Pyongyang has also been marketing extended-range versions of the Scud B. The Scud C has been bought by Iran and Syria and has a range of 500 kilometers. The payload is smaller than that of the Scud B.

Industry sources said North Korea has offered the Scud C for $4 million. Pyongyang has also been offering the longer-range Scud D, which could reach a distance of 700 kilometers.

The CIA provided few details of North Korean missile sales in the intelligence agency's unclassified report to Congress released last week.

The CIA report said that throughout the second half of 2001, North Korea continued to export significant ballistic missile–related equipment, components, materials, and technical expertise to the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa.

"Pyongyang attaches high priority to the development and sale of ballistic missiles, equipment, and related technology," the report said. "Exports of ballistic missiles and related technology are one of the North's major sources of hard currency, which fuel continued missile development and production.