So, I am thumbing through Richard Grimmett’s CRS report Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1998-2005 to find this phrase:
Other non-European suppliers [ahem, North Korea] … delivered [to Near East region during the 2002-2005 period] 40 surface-to-surface missiles, a weapons category not delivered by any of the other major weapons suppliers during this period to any region.
I was looking for it, after a friend forwarded me this story by Thom Shanker citing “Pentagon and other administration officials” to identify the “non-European” supplier as North Korea.
From the context of the report and Shanker’s reporting, I would imagine the 40 missiles are at least two sales by North Korea:
- 15 Scub missiles sold to Yemen in 2002.
- 18 SS-N-6 missiles sold to Iran in 2005.
Yeah, I know that’s only 33. Grimmet might be rounding up, or a third sale may have taken place. But, what had me excited, is Grimmet cites the “U.S. government” as the source confirming the arms transfers. I thought, perhaps, this was implicit, official confirmation the North Korea transferred the SS-N-6 to Iran—a story about which I am very skeptical (for one, I am not sure I believe North Korea has such a missile).
But, alas, the table contains this note:
Data relating to surface-to-surface and anti-ship missiles by foreign suppliers are estimates based on a variety of sources having a wide range of accuracy. As such, individual data entries in these two weapons delivery categories are not necessarily definitive.
So, still no confirmation.