South Korea’s spy agency has exposed North Korea‘s secret weapons deals with Hamas, the militant group that is engaged in a war with Israel, by releasing a photo of a North Korean rocket part that was allegedly used by Hamas fighters.
The photo, which shows a fuse with Korean characters and numbers, confirms a previous report by Voice of America (VOA) that Hamas used an F-7 rocket-propelled grenade launcher manufactured in North Korea.
What is the evidence and how was it obtained?
The evidence of North Korea’s weapons supplies to Hamas is a photo of a fuse that belongs to an F-7 grenade launcher, a type of high-explosive fragmentation rocket that is also known as the RPG-7 in North Korea.
The fuse, which is located in the mid-section of the rocket, has on it a combination of Korean characters and numbers, such as “비저-7류” and “시8-80-53,” which indicate the model and the serial number of the rocket.
The photo was obtained by the National Intelligence Service (NIS), South Korea’s spy agency, which said that its “assessment is the same as the VOA report” that first revealed the use of North Korean weapons by Hamas. The NIS did not disclose how it acquired the photo, but it said that it is “collecting and accumulating” detailed evidence of North Korea’s suspected weapons deals with Hamas, such as trade volumes and the timing of arms trade.
The NIS also said that it is “currently difficult to provide such evidence due to the need to protect information sources and in consideration of diplomatic ties,” implying that it has covert agents or informants in the region who are involved in the investigation.
What are the implications and the reactions of the exposure?
The exposure of North Korea’s weapons deals with Hamas has implications and reactions for the security and the stability of the region and the world. The exposure has:
- Confirmed and revealed the extent and the nature of North Korea’s involvement and support for Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by many countries, and which is engaged in a violent conflict with Israel, a key ally of the United States and South Korea.
- Undermined and violated the international sanctions and the resolutions that prohibit North Korea from exporting or importing weapons and military equipment, and that aim to curb its nuclear and missile programs.
- Increased and escalated the tensions and the risks of confrontation between North Korea and its adversaries, such as South Korea, the United States, and Israel, who have condemned and criticized North Korea’s weapons deals with Hamas, and who have vowed to take actions to stop them.
North Korea has denied and dismissed the allegations of its weapons deals with Hamas as “groundless,” and has accused the United States of “cooking up a false accusation” against it. North Korea has also claimed that it has the right to support and assist Palestine, and that it has ordered its officials to come up with measures to provide comprehensive assistance to the Palestinians.