North Korea has agreed to share missile technology with Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and a regional military giant, the Nigerian government said Wednesday.
Officials gave no details of Tuesday’s deal, including whether Nigeria would receive assembled missiles or just technology to make them. It also was unknown whether the technology was for Scud or ballistic missiles.
Pyongyang typically exports “simple” Scud technology, a Washington analyst said.
Nigeria said any missile help would be used for “peacekeeping” and to protect its territory.
Vice President Atiku Abubakar agreed to the “program of cooperation that includes missile technology” with Yang Hyong Sop, the visiting vice president of the North Korean presidium, Abubakar spokesman Onukaba Ojo told The Associated Press.
The North Korean was to be in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, through Saturday.
North Korean officials showed their Nigerian military counterparts a “catalog of what they have” but “Nigeria has not taken any concrete steps toward acquiring it yet,” Ojo said.
Ojo said he had not seen the catalog and did not know what kinds of weapons it contained.
“This is just a memorandum of understanding. No action has been taken yet,” Ojo said.
Weapons sales are a major revenue source for financially strapped North Korea.
The United States alleges that Pyongyang reaped about $560 million from missile sales in 2001.
In 2003, the United States imposed sanctions on a North Korean company, Changgwang Sinyong Corp., for selling missiles to Pakistan. A shipment of North Korean Scud missiles bound for Yemen was briefly stopped in December 2002 in the Arabian Sea.
A statement from Abubakar’s office said the West African nation’s “government would continue to cooperate with the Korean government in the defense sector, an area in which both Nigeria and North Korea had cooperated over the years.”
Nigeria hoped the United States and other Western nations opposed to North Korean nuclear and weapons proliferation would respect the deal, Ojo said.
“We are a sovereign nation. We should be able to cooperate with any nation we wish to cooperate with as long as it is in the best interests of Nigeria,” Ojo added, stressing the West African government “is not shopping around for nuclear technology or weapons of mass destruction.”
“Whatever we are discussing with them is only to enhance the capability of our military for peacekeeping and to protect Nigeria’s territorial integrity,” Ojo added.
Nigeria, with 126 million people, is a political and military heavyweight on the continent and a frequent recipient of U.S. military and law enforcement assistance. Its military supplies much of the manpower of regional peace missions.
North Korea largely exports “simple” Scud missile technology that is useful for countries with relatively unsophisticated militaries, said Rose Gottemoeller, a senior associate at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The Nigeria deal takes the North Koreans well outside their normal market in the Mideast, Gottemoeller said.
“What is surprising is that they’re so far afield,” she said. “They are clearly looking for cash in whatever market they can earn it.”