North Korea accuses US of helping Israel develop nuclear weapons


SEOUL, South Korea: North Korea accused the United States on Tuesday of actively providing nuclear weapons assistance to Israel while seeking to deprive other countries of the right to peaceful nuclear programs.

North Korea’s top nuclear negotiator, meanwhile, denied accusations that his country had cooperated with Syria on a secret nuclear project.

The United States is “shutting its eyes” to the nuclear programs of its allies while “taking issue with the rights to nuclear activities of other countries for peaceful purposes,” North Korea’s communist party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

“As an illustration, the U.S. has long actively promoted and cooperated with the Israeli nuclear armament plan,” the newspaper said. “They decided to provide assistance to Israel’s nuclear development program. Then the U.S. dispatched nuclear experts to Israel and transferred highly enriched uranium, the key ingredient for nuclear weapons, to them.”

Israel is widely believed to be a nuclear power, but its government has never formally confirmed or denied that it has nuclear weapons. The Israeli “nuclear ambiguity” doctrine is largely meant to scare potential enemies from considering an annihilating attack while denying them the rationale for developing their own nuclear deterrent.

North Korea’s criticism came amid news reports that Israeli warplanes attacked an installation in northern Syria earlier this month which was allegedly either a joint Syrian-North Korean nuclear project or a shipment of arms for Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

North Korea has flatly denied any nuclear link with Syria, calling the accusation a fabrication by “dishonest forces” who want to obstruct recent progress in North Korean-U.S. relations.

“That matter is fabricated by lunatics, so you can ask those lunatics to explain it,” North Korea’s top nuclear envoy, Kim Kye Gwan, told reporters Tuesday after arriving in Beijing for talks on his country’s nuclear weapons program.

International negotiations aimed at convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear programs have reported progress in recent months, with the North shutting down its only functioning nuclear reactor in July and pledging to declare and disable all its nuclear facilities by year’s end.

A new round of six-party talks – involving the U.S., the Koreas, China, Russia and Japan – is scheduled this week, with the participants expected to firm up a deadline for North Korea to disable its nuclear facilities.