Despite being nicknamed “the hermit kingdom,” North Korea has been active in distant Middle Eastern theaters for nearly half a century. North Korea has sold and collaborated on military technology, especially missiles and missile parts, with states across the region for decades. North Korea assisted Syria and Libya with their nuclear programs, in particular. The Middle East is a source of much needed revenue for North Korea as well as international allies and partners.
What does North Korean leader Kim Jong Un want in the Middle East? How has Pyongyang’s activity impacted the region? From Israel’s perspective, what lessons can be learned from the experience of the Al-Kibar nuclear reactor in Syria, which involved North Korean scientists? What has Iran gained and learned from North Korea, and how are counter-proliferation strategies against each country similar and different?
On May 20, 2020, a panel of experts from the Brookings Institution in Washington and the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Israel discussed these topics. Following the conversation, the panelists answered questions from a virtual audience, which were emailed to email@example.com or via Twitter using #DPRKinMENA.