TEL AVIV (Oct. 15)
Israel has denied a Washington Times report that it is monitoring the movements of a North Korean ship believed to be carrying Scud-C missiles to Syria and that it may be planning to attack it.
The vessel Mupo sailed from Beira, Mozambique, and is expected to pass through the Suez Canal at the end of the month, arriving shortly thereafter at the Syrian port of Tartus, according to the London-based Lloyd’s Maritime International Service, which tracks international shipping.
The ship is reported to be carrying Scud-Cs, an improved version of the standard Soviet-made missile, along with components, shipped by North Korea in a deal said to be financed by Iran.
But Defense Ministry officials here insist Israel is paying no attention to the ship’s movements.
The Washington Times cited Pentagon sources as claiming that Israel is keeping close watch on the ship and plans to attack after it leaves the Suez Canal and enters the eastern Mediterranean. The newspaper said the U.S. administration expressed concern to Israel about a possible attack on the Korean vessel.
According to foreign reports, an earlier North Korean ship carrying Scuds to Syria turned back for fear of attack.
But Syria nevertheless is reported to have already received dozens of the more accurate, updated missiles, manufactured in North Korea.