North Korea demanded $1b from Israel to cancel nuke cooperation with Iran

North Korea reportedly offered Israel to cut its weapons sales to Iran if Israel paid it $1 billion.

By: World Israel News Staff

North Korea’s ambassador to Sweden in 1999 made a proposal to his Israeli counterpart: Israel will give North Korea $1 billion in cash and Pyongyang will cancel its agreement to sell missile technology to Iran, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

According to the report, based on the account of senior North Korean diplomat Thae Yong Ho, Israel refused and days later offered food aid instead. The talks ended without an agreement.

Since then, North Korea has steadily supplied conventional and ballistic weapons and nuclear technology to countries hostile to Israel, such as Iran and Syria.

North Korea has a history of selling dangerous technology, including helping Syria build a nuclear reactor and providing the country with chemical weapons. Israel bombed the Syrian nuclear facility in 2007.

As conflict spread across the Middle East since the Arab Spring in 2011, North Korea has stepped up small-arms shipments to Libya and Syria. A North Korean machine gun called the Type 73 has also turned up in battles in Yemen, Iraq and Syria, likely supplied by Iran, which imported them in the 1970s and 1980s.

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The account of the proposal, recorded in a 2018 memoir by Thae, the translator at the supposed meeting who later defected to South Korea in 2016, demonstrates how North Korea has used the threat of weapons proliferation as leverage for cash that could in turn be used to finance its nuclear and missile programs.

Facing this mindset, the US is trying to bring about the denuclearization of North Korea.

However, North Korea has been pushing ahead with weapons programs simultaneously as it pursues dialogue with Washington.

Israel declined to comment on the events outlined by Thae.

Israel’s ambassador to Sweden at the time, Gideon Ben Ami, said in a television interview last week that he had three meetings with North Korean officials in 1999, but he did not mention the North Korean extortion attempt.