Washington Post Monday revealed that the United States decision was motivated by the discovery in Summer 2016 of a cache of more than 30,000 grenade concealed in a vessel named Jie Shun flying Cambodian colors which set off from North Korea.
Provocative North Korean posturing and a ratcheting up of rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang has seen even North Korea's Asian ally China take a tougher line against Kim Jung Un's regime. The North Koreans also like to shut off their electronic identification systems, which makes their badly-maintained ships a hazard to navigation.
Following the United Nations report, the Trump administration decided in July to withhold $290 million in military aid cut out for Egypt over its military deals with North Korea, which, according to the report, has become "a kind of global eBay for vintage and refurbished Cold War-era weapons".
Korea's leader, Kim Jong-Un, has managed to mitigate the crippling effect of the sanctions to some extent by continuing to sell cheap arms to countries such as Burma, Cuba, Syria, Eritrea and at least two terrorist groups, as well as key U.S. allies such as Egypt, analysts told the paper.
Quoting intelligence officials and Western diplomats, the report said Syria recently bought chemical weapons protective gear from Pyonyang and that the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah - a "long-term customer" - has acquired North Korean rockets and missiles.
The Post described that market as "a kind of global eBay for vintage and refurbished Cold War-era weapons, often at prices far lower than the prevailing rates". To top it all off, they like to rip off their customers-the rocket grenades on the Jie Shun dated to the 1960s, but were stamped with March 2016 manufacturing dates. In August, the United States froze a $300million aid package destined for Egypt.
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In a visit to Seoul early last month, Egyptian defense minister, Sedki Sobhi told South Korean officials that Cairo has already severed military ties with Pyongyang and will side with Seoul to increase worldwide pressure on North Korea.
Egypt has been an historical ally of North Korea. That commander was Hosni Mubarak, who later became the longtime authoritarian ruler of Egypt.
The news comes after US officials warned Egypt customs that the vessel was headed towards Egyptian waters with unknown cargo in August 2016.
Egyptian-owned Orascom was also commissioned to build North Korea's state-owned 3G cell phone network and Cairo has provided North Korea with much-needed hard currency in exchange for training Egyptian scientists in weapons technology.
Customs agents found more than 24,000 rocket-propelled grenades and completed components for 6,000 more. "North Korea policy is a world of least-bad options".
Egyptian business executives ordered $23 million worth of rockets from North Korea for the Egyptian army in a complex and illicit arrangement that was thwarted by US intelligence services, The Washington Post reported on Monday.