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Sat 4 Oct 2008 03:58 PM

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Israel: NKorea providing nukes to Mideast nations

Jewish state tells IAEA six countries in region have got means make nuclear weapons.

Israel: NKorea providing nukes to Mideast nations
ACCUSATIONS MADE: Israel told the IAEA that North Korea has provided nuclear weapons to six Middle East nations. (Getty Images)

Israel accused North Korea on Saturday of providing weapons of mass destruction to six countries in the Middle East that ignored arms-control commitments.

The Jewish state spoke as the 145-nation assembly of the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), adopted a resolution unanimously urging North Korea to reverse steps it has taken to revive its shutdown atom bomb programme.

Israel itself is the target of two hotly disputed Arab-sponsored draft resolutions in the assembly urging it to give up its nuclear arms monopoly in the Middle East, join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and accept full IAEA inspections.

Israel said there were six Middle Eastern countries which had obtained the means produce doomsday weapons and ballistic missiles covertly from North Korea while ignoring commitments as members of the NPT and other arms-control regimes.

"At a time when the international community concentrates on North Korea's nuclear activities and its non-compliance with safeguards agreements, the Middle East is at the receiving end of North Korea's reckless practices," Israeli envoy David Danieli told the global meeting in Vienna.

"North Korea has long become a source of proliferation of dangerous weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles in the Middle East," he said.

"At least half a dozen countries in the region who do not even pay lip service to control regimes and are acting in bad faith regarding their stated policy and their undertakings regarding non-proliferation conventions have become eager recipients of North Korea mostly through black market and covert network channels." Danieli did not name the six nations.

Western intelligence officials and non-proliferation experts have said that Iran, Syria, Libya and Iraq under Saddam Hussein were believed to have received North Korean military aid, some applicable to mass-destruction weaponry, in the past.

"No due attention is paid to this dark aspect of North Korean behaviour which has become a matter of great concern to my government and others," Danieli said.

He said there was growing evidence that such states were "emulating the dangerous unlawful practices" of North Korea, which left the NPT in 2003 and developed atom bombs.

"[We] call the attention of the international community to these dangerous developments and their consequences," he said.

Iran is under IAEA investigation over intelligence allegations of secret atomic bomb research. Syria is under IAEA scrutiny over US reports it almost built a plutonium-producing reactor before Israeli warplanes bombed the site a year ago.

Iran and Syria, adversaries of Israel, deny the allegations. Libya scrapped a covert nuclear arms programme in 2003.

US envoy Chris Hill ended three days of meetings in North Korea on Friday meant to salvage the collapsing denuclearisation deal, calling the talks substantive but not saying if he swayed Pyongyang to give up plans to restart its nuclear complex.

The resolution passed by the IAEA assembly underlined the need for denuclearization fully verifiable by IAEA inspectors - a demand resisted by Pyongyang and at the heart of disputes that have crippled its denuclearization deal with five powers. (Reuters)