North Korean Ship Carried 30,000 RPGs to Egypt
A North Korean vessel, with a Cambodian flag, and carrying 30,000 RPGs, sailed to the Suez Canal bound for Egypt in August. Because the ship was monitored by the United States, a tip was sent to Egyptian authorities prior to its passage, and it was stopped. When officials dug through the supposed cargo, the weapons were discovered. It reveals what the Washington Post described on October 1 as a “booming illicit arms trade” by North Korea.
The rust-bucket ship Jie Shun carried 24,000 RPGs and the components to complete 6,000 more. The ship was described as so old and rusty that officials figured that weapons run would be its last voyage. Who were the recipients of the shipment? Here’s the twist: the buyer was Egypt.
The Washington Post reported,
“A U.N. investigation uncovered a complex arrangement in which Egyptian business executives ordered millions of dollars worth of North Korean rockets for the country’s military while also taking pains to keep the transaction hidden, according to U.S. officials and Western diplomats familiar with the findings. The incident, many details of which were never publicly revealed, prompted the latest in a series of intense, if private, U.S. complaints over Egyptian efforts to obtain banned military hardware from Pyongyang, the officials said…
…But U.S. officials confirmed that delivery of the rockets was foiled only when U.S. intelligence agencies spotted the vessel and alerted Egyptian authorities through diplomatic channels — essentially forcing them to take action — said current and former U.S. officials and diplomats briefed on the events. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. and U.N. findings, said the Jie Shun episode was one of a series of clandestine deals that led the Trump administration to freeze or delay nearly $300 million in military aid to Egypt over the summer.”
The shipment was reportedly worth $23 Million, and no one knows if the DPRK was ever paid for it. They had stamped the shipment as being made in 2016, but analysts examining them stated they were old weapons that had been stockpiled. It should remind all of their clandestine customers that deception is alive and well in the Hermit Kingdom of North Korea.