In February 2011, as the revolt against former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was raging for many reasons, including his "docile" policy to the United States, Kim Jong Il, the president of North Korea and a sworn enemy of America, sent a message of greeting to his Egyptian counterpart on the occasion of Lunar New Year.

North Korea has withheld from its people the news of the popular revolution against the Egyptian president, and some sources say that it only informed its senior officials of part of the news of the Egyptian revolution in the official weekly bulletin that it sends to them away from the news presented to the people. This bulletin stated that the reason for the uprising against Mubarak is due to the failure of his economic policy and the corruption of his ruling elite, and noted that the reason for Mubarak's stay in power for the past thirty years was his alliance with the United States of America, but America betrayed him in the end. This story raises many questions about the secret that brought the North Korean regime together with President Mubarak, and made it show support for him until his last days in office, despite the certainty that the reason he remained in power in the first place was his strong relationship with the United States, the regime's most important opponent in Pyongyang.

An ancient Nasserite legacy

Gamal Abdel Nasser receives Choa Yong Kun, the president of North Korea at the time. (Nasser Archive)

North Korea's relations with the Arab Republic of Egypt were formed during the era of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, and this was logical in light of the socialist orientation that prevailed in the two countries, and North Korea supported Nasser in all his wars, starting with the tripartite aggression in 1965, passing through the Yemen war, and ending with the 1967 war. After the defeat by Israel, the departure of Nasser and the accession of President Anwar Sadat to power in the country, the latter issued an important decision in 1972 to expel Russian military experts assisting the Egyptian army in its expected war against Israel to retake the occupied Sinai. One group considered that Sadat's move was nothing but a disguise for Israel by taking steps that confirm Egypt's unwillingness to enter any war, while another group saw that what happened was a kind of pressure on the Soviet Union, which was reluctant to send advanced missiles to Egypt.

After the expulsion of Soviet experts, Sadat found himself in a real problem: the army needed foreign experts to operate Soviet air defenses and Russian MiG-21 aircraft with maximum efficiency, which make up almost all of the Egyptian air force, while training Egyptian soldiers to deal with these military equipment, as the Russians operated about 30% of Egyptian aircraft, and about 20% of surface-to-air missile batteries. The problems of the Egyptian leadership did not stop there, as the Egyptian army also suffered from a lack of trained pilots compared to the Israeli army, and in the face of this dilemma, Sadat went to North Korea to try to fill this gap (the Chief of Staff of the Egyptian army at that period, Lieutenant General Saad al-Din al-Shazly, tells that he was the one who understood this solution), and Pyongyang agreed to Sadat's request and sent 1500,20 military experts in addition to <> combat pilots with previous experience who They have tried the war against U.S. forces before.

North Korea's assistance to Egypt was not limited to experts; the North Korean military participated with its aircraft and pilots in the October 1973 war, where the primary task of these forces was to protect Upper Egypt from any Israeli attacks. Korean fighters also confronted Israeli fighter jets immediately after December 6, 1973, according to the testimonies of Israeli soldiers themselves about the war. The Koreans did well in using MiG-21s in front of the F-4 Phantom, which was used by the Israelis despite the technical superiority of the occupation army's aircraft, as Pyongyang's soldiers showed great skill in maneuvering and exploiting all the strengths of the MiG-21.

North Korean participants in the 1973 October War were honored by the Egyptian leadership. (Social Media)

The North Korean pilots' brilliant performance apparently impressed pilot Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, especially since they were present in the same weapon that the former Egyptian president had run during the war. Beyond the military performance and the Koreans' ability to fill the gap of Soviet experts, Sadat and his political disciple Mubarak found something different in North Korea than in the Soviet Union, which the Egyptian administration viewed with weariness, constantly accusing him of stinginess in support. In the eyes of Mubarak and Sadat, the Koreans were helping more than they were required to do and did not ask much in return, they did not wish after giving, they are serious and silent and do not mortgage their assistance on many political concessions as other powers do. Sadat and Mubarak will turn against all aspects of Nasser's socialist legacy, but they will nevertheless maintain strong ties with Pyongyang and develop them even more than they were under Nasser despite their declared Western orientations.

In 2007, one year after North Korea's first nuclear test, and at the height of Mubarak's main ally, the United States, anger at the "rogue" Asian state, the Egyptian president received his Korean counterpart, Kim Jong-il, and Mubarak did not forget to recall the support and assistance that North Korea provided to Egypt in the 1973 war. The depth of the relationship between the two regimes can also be found at the Military Museum in Cairo, which was renovated in 1990 in cooperation with North Korea to resemble the Museum of the "War of Liberation of the Fatherland" in Pyongyang.

Top secret relationship

Successive U.S. administrations have tried to convince Mubarak that they know his secret with North Korea and that they have monitored his movements, but at the same time they have been wary of being harsh on him or treating him as a threat to their "world peace" project. (Getty Images)

Under the phrase "top secret," dated July 1991, the CIA Director wrote a U.S. government report titled "Prospects for and Control of Special Weapons Proliferation," assessing the situation of different countries with "special weapons," where the word weapons of mass destruction were not yet commonplace, and the document declassified in 2012 stated that Egypt would begin producing Scud-B ballistic missiles with the help of North Korea.

Similarly, a meeting of the US Congress on October 21, 1997, indicated that North Korea was engaged in a plan to develop missiles jointly with Egypt at the request of President Mubarak in the early eighties, with minutes indicating that Korea had sent experts to Egypt to transfer technology to Cairo. In 1996, US intelligence detected shipments of missile supplies coming from North Korea to Egypt, as a June 1996 CIA report quoted by the Washington Times stated that North Korea transported at least 7 shipments that year containing components for Scud C missiles that could hit all parts of Israel.

Apparently, U.S. officials felt that Egypt was so close to self-manufacturing Scud C missiles that the question of whether sanctions could be imposed on Egypt for this reason reverberated among decision-makers in Washington, but what curbed the idea was the strong relations between Egypt and America, as the United States did not see any benefit in antagonizing its ally Mubarak at the time, although it punished Syria and Iran for similar reasons related to missile cooperation with North Korea in 1992, without forgetting Imposing sanctions against the Egyptian Ministry of Defense at the time would have meant preventing U.S. exporters from contracting with the military in Cairo, causing huge losses at a time when the United States was exporting many military equipment and ammunition to Egypt.

Successive US administrations tried to convince Mubarak that they were familiar with his secret with North Korea, but at the same time they were wary of excessive pressure on him or treating him as a threat to the "world peace" project due to the nature of warm relations with him in the rest of the files, and in Mubarak's visit to Washington in 2001, the US administration clearly touched on the file of his cooperation with North Korea regarding missile production, but Mubarak always denied Egypt's quest to possess this type of weapon, and Israel and its press On the other hand, Mubarak is accused of exploiting the peace treaty, relations with the United States of America and its financial assistance to surreptitiously strengthen his army with weapons that could threaten Israel's security in the future, and in 2000 the Israeli Ministry of Defense warned the United States that Mubarak was transferring American technology to the Koreans in exchange for their help in the manufacture of missiles.

Egypt's relations with North Korea under Mubarak were more than seemingly covert missile cooperation. Despite his close ties to the West, Mubarak visited Pyongyang three times in the 3s, and once in 1990. Egypt is one of only 24 countries in the world to host an embassy for North Korea, and international reports state that Egypt's Port Said was an important station for North Korea where its proxies made arms deals with various countries in the region, and its embassy in Cairo was a center for military sales to other parties, which generated hard currency for this isolated country. These data are of course very important, but what is most interesting in this file is to know the details of that secret missile program that brought Cairo together with Pyongyang under Mubarak and worried Washington and Tel Aviv.

Deciphering Soviet missiles

Egypt emerged from the 1973 war convinced of the importance of possessing Scud-B missile technology to try to counterbalance the danger of Israeli deterrence weapons. (Social Media)

Abdel Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak differed in many matters related to the way Egypt is managed internally and externally, but they met in other matters that formed an extension of the new Egyptian regime, and the issue of manufacturing weapons, especially missiles, is one of the most important files that the trio agreed on as it represents a matter of national security for all presidents of Egypt.

At first, Nasser tried through German scientists in the sixties, some of whom served in the regime of Adolf Hitler, to produce Egyptian missiles, and he actually produced two models called "Al-Zafer" and "Al-Qaher", but their ability to strike as well as their flexibility in movement was very poor, and Nasser was not allowed to develop them further because the Mossad targeted German scientists with assassination and threats until they were forced to leave Egypt in 1965.

Gamal Abdel Nasser and then Anwar Sadat continued after the 1967 war to seek to possess a deterrent missile force, and Cairo played the escalation card in the face of Moscow to reach its military goal, so this was sometimes by expelling Soviet experts, as Sadat did, and sometimes by threatening to fall into the lap of the West and the United States of America if the intransigence of the Soviets increased in the issue of opening advanced weapons stores in the face of Egypt, and in 1972 pressure succeeded in convincing Moscow to release a shipment of short-range "Frog-7" missiles With a range of 70 kilometers, after Sadat's expulsion of Russian experts and before the beginning of the 1973 war, Moscow finally released 18 Scud-B missiles, and military analysts believe that Egypt would not have taken the decision to war in 1973 without obtaining this type of missile that gave Egypt the confidence to embark on the battle.

The Egyptian leadership believed that only powerful missiles would deter Israel from striking deep blows to Egypt, and although the missiles did not clearly affect militarily in the course of the battle, Egypt emerged from the 1973 war convinced of the importance of possessing technology to manufacture this type of missile, to try to balance the danger of Israeli deterrence weapons.

At the same time, North Korea was living the same challenge by trying to obtain advanced missiles from the Soviet Union, but to no avail, so the solution was to go to a country that had already obtained this type of weapons from the Soviet Union, a country that could risk its troubled relationship with the Soviets and sell the weapons in its possession to another country, and there was no better than Egypt to play this role, especially since Cairo had begun after the war to gradually move towards the West, after its crises deepened with The Kaaba of communism in the world.

Despite the stark divergence in orientation, interests have agreed between Egypt and North Korea, both of which strongly want advanced Soviet missile technology. Convinced of Egypt's lack of administrative and engineering capabilities to manufacture its missiles, Sadat agreed in 1976 to deliver two Scud-B missiles to North Korea until it could decipher its manufacture and development, provided that Egypt shared this technology after the work was completed, which it did, after North Korea fully fulfilled its covenant with Egypt.

"Badr 2000". Mubaraki's dream challenges America

Badr 2000 missile project. (Social Media)

Throughout his rule, Mubarak seemed a man who was not looking for problems, and even some of those who belonged to the circle of his regime wrote their testimonies on his time, describing him as slow decision-making, a tendency to remain still, and a lack of initiative, but on the contrary, Mubarak was in the missile manufacturing file proactive and mobile in a way that does not suit the nature of his personality. When Mubarak came to power, Egyptian cooperation with North Korea was in full swing, with Cairo bolstering it with a new agreement with Pyongyang to develop the 500-kilometer Scud C. But the Egyptian president was not satisfied with agreeing with Korea, he was trying with different parties to the same goal, the most important of which is China, with which the Egyptian president communicated in the early eighties but did not show any interest in the Egyptian desire.

In 1982, Egypt began a secret project with Iraq and Argentina to manufacture a missile with a range of 1000,500 kilometers with a payload of up to 2 kilograms, which Argentina called the "Condor 2000" and Egypt called "Badr 2000." The idea of the project was to build the missile in Argentina away from the eyes of the West, and later transfer the technology to both Iraq and Egypt, and Egypt's role was technical assistance, and Iraq's role was mainly financing. From the Sierra Chica mountains in Argentina, the village of Abu Zaabal in Cairo and the missile complex south of Baghdad, work began, and while work was underway with Argentina on the one hand and with North Korea on the other, Egypt commissioned military engineer Abdelkader Helmy in California to obtain materials prohibited to Egypt for the construction of the Badr <> missile.

At the end of the eighties, the security authorities in the United States of America were able to discover the secret of Abdel Qader Helmy and try him, as Helmy admitted that he tried to leak 420 pounds of "carbon-carbon" used in the manufacture of the nose of missiles and thermal shields, which contributes to improving the accuracy of the missile. However, the United States has condoned punishing Mubarak for his Iraqi-funded adventure, and some sources say it only lobbied for the dismissal of Field Marshal Abu Ghazaleh, who represented the Egyptian spearhead in the project. U.S. pressure on Buenos Aires, on the other hand, knocked Argentina out of the project in 1990 before the three parties reached the critical technology for the missile industry.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his successor on the right by Field Marshal Abdel Halim Abu Ghazaleh, then Minister of Defense. (Social Media)

According to the book "Nasser and the Age of Missiles" by "Owen Sears", a researcher specializing in the Middle East, who worked in the US Defense Intelligence Agency, US intelligence officials were of the opinion that the exit of the "Badr 2000" missile to the light would have made the North Korean "Nodong" missile just a child's play, given the accuracy of the first and its expected flexibility, and American analysts argue that the success of the project that their country aborted was able to change many things in History of the Middle East and South America.

In the midst of these stumbling blocks for Egyptian projects, North Korea did not forget to give back to Egypt after it was able in the late eighties to understand and even develop Scud-B missile technology, which is capable of carrying chemical warheads to a range of up to 300 kilometers. The Koreans took it upon themselves to help Egypt, as they had previously promised, build a Scud-B production plant in Cairo by sending their experts and engineers and using the designs they had prepared. In addition to this significant assistance, negotiations have begun between Egypt and North Korea to import Scud C missiles from Pyongyang.

By the end of the nineties, some American sources suggested that the materials transferred by North Korea to Egypt and technical assistance may also enable Egypt to produce Scud C missiles itself, knowing that these missiles are characterized by higher accuracy and range than Scud-B and can target all parts of Israel, and some sources estimate that North Korea has exported 250 missiles to Egypt, Iran, Libya and Syria between 1987-1992 worth about $ 580 million.

US intelligence reports go further, as they confirm that dozens of North Korean missile experts worked in Egypt at the beginning of the new millennium, in order to complete the task of participating in missile development and production technologies, and it is likely that Egypt bought in that period - in which Mubarak denied America his interest in this type of weapons - 24 Nodong missiles with a range of up to 1300 kilometers, which led to a major dispute between Cairo and Washington, but Egypt continued Try to develop its missile production capabilities afterwards.

Although we cannot measure the true extent of Egypt's missile industrial power under Mubarak, evidence suggests that this force has developed significantly with the support of North Korea: According to a report published on November 1996, 15, by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Weapons Control, a Washington-based nonprofit think tank, Cairo, after <> years of helping North Korea, is able to produce its own version of Scud-B, and is developing A version of Scud C. Egypt has not announced success in producing any of these missiles, and Mubarak's ouster likely has hampered this path, but what is certain is that the military relationship between Cairo and Pyongyang has been deeper than everyone thinks.

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Sources:

  • Nasser and the Missile Age in the Middle East 
  • Will Washington Penalize Cairo for Missile Trade with Pyongyang?
  • North Korean Missile Exports
  • North Korea Still Shopping for Missile-Related Technology
  • National Intelligence Estimate, NIE 5-91C, 'Prospects for Special Weapons Proliferation and Control'
  • ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRES FIRST SESSION
  • The Egypt-North Korea Connection
  • North Korea's 50 Year Fight With Israel Began With Korean MiG-21s Guarding Syria and Egypt
  • North Korea fears Egypt scenario
  • Fact: North Korean Jet Fighters Fought Against Israel in the Yom Kippur War
  • North Korean Defence Cooperation with Egypt; How Rodong and Hwasong Missiles Came to Comprise the Bulk of Cairo's Ballistic Missile Forces
  • Egypt's Missile Efforts Succeed with Help from North Korea
  • A History of Ballistic Missile Development in the DPRK
  • North Korea and Egypt: friends with benefits
  • CASE STUDY – NORTH KOREA'S SCUD STORY
  • The North Korean-Israeli Shadow War
  • North Korean President in Egypt
  • Washington provokes to Mubarak Egypt's military cooperation with North Korea