American intelligence believes Egypt is again using Chinese and North Korea missile experts to improve Egyptian ballistic missiles. The Chinese firm involved (China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp) had earlier been sanctioned by the United States for illegal ballistic missile and technology exports. North Korea is not supposed to be exporting this stuff either but has never accepted any of the many weapons-related export sanctions imposed on it. Recently, North Korea was suspected of flying in ballistic missile parts to Egypt.
North Korea has exported some 500 ballistic missiles since 1987. Most (420) of these shipments occurred between 1987 and 1993. For the rest of the 1990s, there were only about 30 shipped. In the last decade there have only been about 60 exported. Most of these missiles went to Syria, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, Libya, the UAE (United Arab Emirates), and Yemen. Most of the missiles were SCUD class weapons, which cost about a million dollars each. These exports have been a major source of export income for North Korea. These exports are now banned because of international sanctions imposed on account of North Korean nuclear weapons development.
Egypt is believed to have over fifty North Korean built ballistic missiles, with about twenty of them (Nodongs) having a range of over 1,200 kilometers. Most of the 500 Egyptian ballistic missiles are variants on the 1950s Russian SCUD design and most are locally made. These have a range of 500 kilometers or less. The newly elected Islamic government has made no secret of its hostility towards Israel and the government is showing dictatorial tendencies and needs the support of the army. Violating international sanctions to fix up the military’s decrepit ballistic missile force would solve several problems at once.
The Chinese and North Korean missile experts spotted in Egypt recently appear to be selling upgrades to Egyptian missile design and production capabilities. Egyptian missiles are believed to be poorly maintained and the launch crews not really prepared for combat conditions. The foreign help could improve the ability of Egypt to actually use these missiles and for most of those missiles to work as they are supposed to. These ballistic missiles are the only way Egypt could actually hit Israeli targets. Despite Egypt’s 240 F-16 fighters and 970 M-1 tanks, the pilots and tank crews are no match for their Israeli counterparts.