The Sudanese government has been secretly conducting negotiations with North Korea for the purchase of medium-range ballistic missiles, short-range missiles, and anti-tank missiles, according to a leaked US diplomatic note.
The United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in the cable marked secret that Washington has information that in 2008, Sudan was negotiating a weapons deal.
“We want to raise this information with Sudanese officials, urge them not to engage in missile-related cooperation with North Korea, and emphasize that such a deal would be a clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1718” the cable reads.
The UN sanctions imposed in 2006 include a ban on trade in nuclear and missile technology with North Korea, as well as an arms embargo. They also banned trade with a number of North Korean firms and called for asset freezes and travel bans on some North Korean individuals.
“In addition, we want to note that the ballistic missiles North Korea sells, such as Scud and No Dong systems, are considered to be Category I missiles by the multilateral Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) because of their range and payload capabilities, and because they are inherently capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction (WMD). As such, Sudan should consider that its acquisition of WMD-capable ballistic missiles would be destabilizing to the region and negatively affect the international community’s perception of Sudan’s commitment to maintaining peace with the Southern Sudan”.
“Sudan should consider the effect of the acquisition of such ballistic missiles on neighboring countries. Sudan’s purchase of ballistic missiles would be destabilizing to the region and a particular concern to neighbors within range of the missile. These countries would obviously question whether they were the intended targets of these weapons and whether Sudan intended to use these missiles to attack them”.
“Sudan’s purchase of ballistic missiles could threaten Southern Sudan militarily and undermine the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), as well as send a message of hostility to armed rebel groups in Darfur”.
“Given the serious implications of cooperation with North Korea in the procurement of missiles or missile-related technology, we strongly urge Sudan not to engage in such missile activity with North Korea”.
The US Charge d’Affaires Alberto Fernandez met with the then foreign affairs ministry Undersecretary Mutrif Sideeg to convey Washington’s concerns and get clarifications from Khartoum. Sideeg simply promised to pass the information on to the appropriate channels.
The Sudanese official underscored that his country is a member of the international community, and respects all UNSC resolutions. He stressed that Sudan has no aggressive or hostile intent towards any of its neighbors, Government of South Sudan (GoSS) or its governing party the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM).
Sideeg however said that Sudan has a right to defend itself and noted that the SPLA had recently acquired T-72 tanks and other war materiel from Ukraine.
He further disclosed that Sudan had pressed both the Russians and Ukrainians through their Embassy in Cairo about the inadvisability of such sales. Sideeg further alleged that the American company Dyncorp had also been involved in the transaction. Fernandez responded that he believed the claim of Dyncorp involvement in arms sales to South Sudan is false.
In September 2008 it was revealed that 33 Soviet-era T-72 tanks and BM-21 multiple rocket launch systems on board a Ukrainian cargo ship that was hijacked by Somali pirates for four months had been destined for southern Sudan via Kenya. Kenya’s government denied it and said the tanks were for its military.
At the time Sudan summoned the Kenyan ambassador to protest against what it said were illegal shipments of arms to its semi-autonomous south.
This is not the first time reports emerge that Sudan is seeking access to high-tech weapon systems.
In 2008 it was reported that China has shipped its latest-version FN-6 portable ground-to-air missiles to Sudan. They are considered to be the most advanced ground-to-air missiles China has introduced to the international market.
A year later the Kanwa Defense Review Monthly magazine said that Sudan managed to buy an unknown number of WS-2 multi-launch rocket systems from China as well.
This was the first time this system is exported by China to any country, the Defense magazine reported adding that Sudan now is in possession of the “most powerful long-range attack system” in the African continent.