Washington: North Korea used disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist AQ Khan`s notorious network to supply atomic materials to Libya and Syria, the Pentagon has said, as it warned against Pyongyang`s proliferation efforts.
"One of our gravest concerns about North Korea`s activities in the international arena is its demonstrated willingness to proliferate nuclear technology," Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a report running into 20 pages.
"North Korea provided Libya with uranium hexafluoride, a compound used in the uranium enrichment process that produces fuel for nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons, via the proliferation network of Pakistani nuclear scientist A Q. Khan," the Defence Secretary said.
North Korea also provided Syria with nuclear reactor technology until 2007, said the report titled `Military and Security Developments Involving the Democratic People`s Republic of Korea 2012`.
Hagel said North Korea uses a world-wide network to facilitate arms sales activities and maintains a core group of recipient countries including Myanmar, Iran and Syria.
He informed the US Congress about North Korea`s pursuit of nuclear capabilities and development of long-range ballistic missile programmes, saying it makes Pyongyang one of the most critical US security challenges.
"North Korea has an ambitious ballistic missile development programme and has exported missile technology to other countries, including Iran and Pakistan. North Korea has produced its own version of the SCUD B, as well as the SCUD C, an extended-range version of the SCUD B," Hagel said.
"North Korea has exported conventional and ballistic missile-related equipment, components, materials and technical assistance to countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Conventional weapons sales have included ammunition, small arms, artillery, armored vehicles, and surface-to-air missiles," he said.
"In addition to Burma, Iran and Syria, past clients for North Korea`s ballistic missiles and associated technology have included Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and Yemen," he said.
Hagel said Pyongyang remains a security threat because of its willingness to undertake provocative and destabilizing behavior, including attacks on the Republic of Korea, its pursuit of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, and its willingness to proliferate weapons in contravention of its international agreements and UN resolutions.
"The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korea`s continued provocations and steadfast in commitments to Allies in the region, including the security provided by extended deterrence commitments through both the nuclear umbrella and conventional forces," Hagel added.