Washington, July 10: North Korea had sought $1 billion in cash from Israel for stopping selling missile technology to the Jewish state's major enemies, including Iran, a former senior North Korean diplomat, who has now defected, has revealed, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal published on Sunday, July 8.
The revelation came in 'Password from the Third Floor', a recently published book by Thae Yong Ho, a member of a prominent family in North Korea who defected with his wife and children two years ago while serving as a senior diplomat in the North Korean embassy in London, the report added.
The news about Thae's defection came out in August 2016 when a newspaper in South Korea said that the man had escaped with his family "to a third country". Thae later surfaced in the South Korean capital from where he publicly condemned the regime in Pyongyang.
Thae then penned his book to reveal his experiences of working as a North Korean diplomat. In his work, he claimed to have worked as a translator during a series of talks between Son Mu Sin and Gideon Ben Ami - the ambassadors of North Korea and Israel, respectively, to Sweden.
In one of those meetings that took place secretly in 1999, Son allegedly told Ben Ami that his country had a series of agreements to sell ballistic missile technology and know-how to Israel's enemy states like Iran, Syria and Pakistan but the North Korean regime was ready to scrap them if it was handed $1 billion in cash by Israel.
Thae's book further revealed that in another meeting held three days later, Ben Ami clarified that Israel was not willing to pay the amount to Pyongyang though it was ready to give humanitarian aid corresponding to the same value, the report said, but cited Thae as saying that the North Koreans refused to accept the Israeli position and the talks ended inconclusively.
It is claimed that Pyongyang subsequently went forward to supply missile and nuclear technologies to both Syria and Iran. The WSJ report said that it contacted the Israeli government and asked it questions in relation to Thae's revelations but did not get any response. It also tried to understand the two former diplomats' take on the issue but didn't succeed either.
It also said that Ben Ami uttered during a television interview last week that he had held three meetings with North Korean officials in 1999 but he stopped short of naming them and also did not divulge the content of their talks.
The WSJ report also said that the claims of North Korea seeking the whopping amount to stop selling missiles to Iran make it important for the US to view things closely.