In his final years in power, the late Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein reached out to North Korea for help to obtain missiles, according to several U.N, U.S. and International Atomic Energy Agency officials.
Had he not been stopped, those channels might have been used to obtain nuclear weapons from North Korea, the sources said.
Saddam had been negotiating the purchase of banned rockets and possibly technology that could have revived his dormant nuclear weapons program, the sources report.
The meetings between Saddam and the North Koreans were facilitated by the current government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who himself is fighting to remain in power.
“There were several meetings between the Iraqis and North Korea in Damascus from 2001-2003,” explained David Kay.
Kay, who led a CIA-Pentagon Iraq search team shortly after the U.S. toppled Saddam, said that an agreement between the Iraqis and North Koreans had been reached and that some money changed hands.
“Everything can be had for the right price,” Kay said, referring to North Korean efforts to sell what they could to raise much-needed hard currency.
While Kay was not able to verify that Saddam was trying to revive his dormant nuclear program, he said had Saddam’s nascent missile agreement been allowed to continue, a nuclear purchase might have been possible.