DPRK - Pakistan
Ghauri Missile Cooperation

by Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.

21 May 1998

NOTE: This paper was quickly extracted from a significantly larger work entitled BALLISTIC MISSILE DEVELOPMENT IN THE DPRK. The intention was to provide a number of friends with a brief background on Pakistani-DPRK missile cooperation. It was not meant to be an exhaustive study of the subject. This paper was published (in an earlier form and without the footnotes) in JANE'S DEFENSE WEEKLY. The DPRK paper is itself part of an even larger work entitled BALLISTIC MISSILE DEVELOPMENT IN THE THIRD WORLD.


Pakistan's recent testing of its Ghauri (Hatf V) 1,500 km medium range ballistic missile (IRBM) has raised regional security concerns. While the world has focused its attention on the People's Republic of China (PRC) as the silent partner behind Pakistan's developing missile capabilities there is another significant sponsor- the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The DPRK's relationship with Pakistan dates to the early 1970s. During mid 1971, with tensions between Pakistan and India growing, Pakistan's President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto approached the DPRK in an effort to obtain critically needed weapons. An agreement was soon concluded and on 18 September 1971 the first arms shipment from the DPRK arrived in Karachi. Along with the military assistance agreement, the two countries also signed agreements for the mutual establishment of consulates. On 9 November 1972, in return for the DPRK's support during Pakistan's recent war with India, and only one day after withdrawing from SEATO, Pakistan announced that it was establishing formal diplomatic relations with the DPRK. Military assistance to Pakistan continued through the late 1970s, with the DPRK providing artillery, multiple rocket launchers, ammunition, and a variety of spare parts.(1)

In July 1977 a military coup led by Muhammad Zia ul-Haq overthrew, and subsequently executed, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. With the transition to a new government military cooperation between Pakistan and the DPRK was apparently allowed to lapse. Despite this lapse the foreign policies pursued by both countries during the 1980s witnessed their military advisors working concurrently in such countries as Libya and Iran.(2)

The confluence of three events during the 1980s would result in the establishment of a Pakistani ballistic missile program.

It was however, the Iran-Iraq War which firmly established the basis for Pakistani-DPRK ballistic missile cooperation. During that conflict both Pakistan and the DPRK provided military and political assistance to Iran. The DPRK's assistance to Iran was critical within the field of ballistic missiles. It provided Iran with approximately 160 Scud Mod. B (known as the Hwasong 5 in the DPRK) ballistic missiles as well as assisted it in establishing ballistic missile assembly, maintenance and production capabilities. It was during the war that the first known ballistic missile contacts between Pakistan and the DPRK occurred as engineers and advisors from both countries worked on Iranian missile programs.(4) These contacts, aided by political developments during this period, resulted in the establishment of nuclear and ballistic missile-related cooperation between Pakistan and the DPRK. Examples of this cooperation include: the DPRK sale of milling and drilling equipment to Pakistan; cooperative covert programs to acquire nuclear and missile technologies from Germany; Pakistani provision of nuclear technology to the DPRK; etc.(5) It was also during this period that Pakistan first learned of the Iranian support for the DPRK's follow-on systems the 500 km Scud Mod. C (known as the Hwasong 6 in the DPRK) and 1,300 km No-dong.

Despite considerable assistance from the PRC, Pakistan's indigenous ballistic missile program headed by Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan and centered at the Khan (Kahuta) Research Laboratories, progressed slowly during the 1980s with the development of the Hatf I and Hatf II. Following India's February 1988 test of its Prithvi ballistic missile the PRC agreed to provide Pakistan with increased ballistic missile technology assistance and, more significantly, with both the 600 km M-9 (CSS-6/DF-15) and 280 km M-11 (CSS-7/DF-11) missiles. The first of these systems began arriving during late 1988. During early 1989 Pakistan announced that it had tested two 500 kg payload missiles "...one having a range of 80 km and the other 300 km."(6) The resulting international uproar resulted in US suspension of billions of dollars in military and economic aid to Pakistan in October 1990 and a distinct chilling is PRC-US relations.(7)

In December 1988, Benazir Bhutto - the daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto - became prime minister of Pakistan. Although she would accomplish little and be dismissed the following August, she threw her full support behind the acquisition of PRC ballistic missiles and expanded Pakistan-DPRK missile and nuclear cooperation. An indication of this expanded cooperation was the visit by Pakistani officials to the DPRK's Sanum-dong missile development center to examine the No-dong. This visit may have been related to the June 1992 failed, or cancelled, No-dong test event.(8) The following month DPRK Deputy Premier-Foreign Minister Kim Yong-nam travelled to Syria (July 27-30), Iran (July 30-August 3) and Pakistan (August 4-7), to discuss matters concerning bilateral cooperation. High on the list of matters discussed is believed to have been mutual missile cooperation and DPRK sales of Scud Mod. C and possibly No-dong missiles (e.g., the DPRK's construction of a Scud Mod. C factory in Syria financed by Iran and the PRC).(9) The following year, Pakistani and Iranian specialists are believed to have been present for the DPRK's 29-30 May 1993 test event in which one No-dong and three Scud Mod. B/Cs were launched.(10)

The birth of the Ghauri program is believed to date to late 1993, or early 1994, following Benazir Bhutto's re-election as prime minister in October 1993. In December of that year she travelled to the PRC and DPRK. Although she publicly denied it subsequent events indicate that she was seeking, among other things, increased cooperation in the development of a ballistic missiles. Specifically, a system capable of striking strategic targets within India. Immediately after leaving Beijing, Bhutto travelled to P'yongyang on 30 December to request similar assistance from the DPRK.(11)

The PRC leadership, painfully aware of the problems it was encountering with its continued efforts in providing M-11 components and systems to Pakistan, apparently had no desire to further damage its relations with the US and other Asian countries by directly providing Pakistan with an IRBM. Yet it had a long standing and intimate defense relationship with Pakistan and the Bhutto family. To satisfy the requirements for deniability, yet still support what it perceived as legitimate Pakistani defense concerns, a program was developed in which the PRC would continue to finance the establishment and expansion of a ballistic missile infrastructure within Pakistan and provide the soft technology and engineering for a new Pakistani IRBM which would eventually be called the Ghauri. The DPRK would serve as a conduit for a portion of the PRC assistance and provide hardware and components from its No-dong and Taep'o-dong programs. The PRC is also believed to have agreed to provide components in those areas which the DPRK was still struggling (e.g., guidance).

From this point on Pakistan-DPRK political, scientific and missile cooperation accelerated. During April 1994, a delegation of the DPRK Foreign Ministry headed by Pak Chung-kuk, deputy to the Supreme People's Assembly, travelled to Iran and Pakistan.(12) In September of the same year delegation of the DPRK led by Choe Hui-chong, chairman of the State Commission of Science and Technology, travelled to Pakistan.(13) During late November 1995, DPRK military delegation led by Choe Kwang (Vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, Minister of the People's Armed Forces, and Marshal of the Korean People's Army) travelled to Pakistan. Here he meet Pakistani President Sardar Leghari, Defense Minister Aftab Shaban Mirani, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Chief of Naval Operations, Commander of the Air Force and various other military officials. Choe is also believed to have visited the missile related production facilities in the Faisalabad - Lahore area and possible even Jhelum (the area from which the Ghauri was subsequently launched).(14) Choe's is believed to have finalized the agreement to provide Pakistan with either major components (possibly fuel tanks and rocket engines) from the No-dong or Taep'o-dong programs or a modified No-dong missile. The agreed upon items were to be produced by the Fourth Machine Industry Bureau of the 2nd Economic Committee and a majority are believed to have been delivered to the Khan Research Laboratories in Spring of the following year by the Changgwang Sinyong Corporation (a.k.a., North Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation/Bureau).(15) On April 24, 1998 the U.S. State Department imposed sanctions against both the Khan Research Laboratories and Changgwang Sinyong Corporation.(16) This was the second time that the State Department imposed sanctions against the Khan Research Laboratories. The first time occurred during August 1993 in relation to Pakistan's acquisition of PRC ballistic M-11 missiles. The Changgwang Sinyong Corporation was also the organization responsible for supplying Iran with DPRK missile technologies, components and Hwasong 6 missiles during the mid-1990s. It, along with the Iranian Ministry of Defense Armed Forces Logistics and State Purchasing Office, were subsequently placed under U.S. State Department sanctions during June 1996.(17)

Several days after the April 6 test of the Ghauri, Dr. Khan announced that Pakistan was in the process of developing a more capable ballistic missile - the Ghaznavi - with a range of 2,000 km.(18) This new system will likely incorporate both technology and components from the Taep'o-dong programs and the PRC. In addition to missile related components and technologies the DPRK has provided Pakistan with the launcher utilized for the Ghauri test, and may be assisting in developing its own transporter-erector-launchers (TEL) or mobile erector launchers.(19) The Ghauri launcher, like that for the DPRK's No-dong, is an evolutionary development of the standard Russian MAZ-543TLM used for the R-17 Scud. The model provided to Pakistan is probably the same used for the No-dong.

A number of episodes during the past ten years illustrate that the Pakistan-DPRK relationship has extended beyond the Ghauri program and to encompass numerous other missile, nuclear and defense related fields.(20) In May 1989 reports suggest that the DPRK had offered to provide Pakistan with quantities of the high-explosive Hexagen.(21) During March 1996, the DPRK cargo ship Chonsung was detained by Taiwanese authorities for improperly declaring 15 tonnes (200 barrels) of ammonia perchlorate (a key component in solid rocket fuels) which was being shipped to Pakistan's Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO).(22) Pakistan has provided the DPRK with access to western technology and systems which it could not easily obtain and has served as a conduit for covert acquisition programs. It was Pakistan which provided the DPRK with its first examples of the US manufactured Stinger SAM which had originally been supplied to the mujahidin during the Afghan war.(23) It is likely that the DPRK's No-dong and Taep'o-dong programs have also benefitted from access to various PRC technologies (e.g., guidance systems, etc.) that had previously been unavailable to it and from the data obtained from the recent Ghauri test launch (the Ghauri flew further then any previously tested DPRK missile).(24)

The DPRK's involvement in the Pakistani missile program, as well as its continued assistance to Egypt, Iran and Syria, illustrate that despite the DPRK's worsening economic and political situation, it continues to expend time, money and precious resources upon its No-dong and Taep'o-dong missile programs. In fact, these programs along with the WMD, artillery and special operations forces are the few areas of expected growth within the DPRK.(25)

End Notes


1. Interview data; "Aims of Pyongyang's Propaganda for Its South-South Cooperation Policy," 60-65; "North Korean Military Assistance," in Communist Nations' Military Assistance, ed. J. F. Cooper and D. S. Papp, Boulder, Westview Press, 1983, pp. 169-177; "Pakistan, 'Strengthening Friendly Ties', Recognizes North Korea," The New York Times, 10 November 1972; Benjamin Welles, "Pakistan Said to Have Received North Korean Arms," The New York Times, 15 October 1971.


2. For example see: "Libya at a Glance," The Washington Post, March 25, 1986, p. 14; and "Iran Quietly Trying to Regain Friends Abroad," The Associated Press, October 21, 1985.


3. McCarthy, Timothy V. India: Emerging Missile Power," in The International Missile Bazaar: The New Suppliers Network, Edited by William C. Potter and Harlen Jencks, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1993, pp. 201-234; and Indranil Banerjie, "The Integrated Guided Missile Development Program," Indian Defense Review, July 1990, p. 99.


4. For example see: "Missiles-Context-Iran," United Press International, August 1, 1985; and Anderson, Jack; and Van Atta, Dale. "North Korea Aids Iran's War of Terror", The Washington Post, February 3, 1986, p. B1.


5. Gordon, Marcy. "Iraq-Nuclear-Probe," The Associated Press, 21 October 1992; Smith, R. Jeffrey. "Dozens of U.S. Exports Went to Iraqi Arms Projects," The Washington Post, July 22, 1992; "DPRK Defector on North's Nuclear Development," Segye Ilbo, 30 October 1991, p. 3; "DPRK Drive for Science, Technology Analyzed," Sin Tong-a, No. 12, December 1990, pp. 212-228, as cited in FBIS-EAS-91-017, 25 January 1991, pp. 32-41; and Milhollin, Gary. "Asia's Nuclear Nightmare: The German Connection," The Washington Post, June 10, 1990.


6. "Pakistan in Missile Build Claim," Jane's Defense Weekly, February 18, 1989, p. 267.


7. Gedda, George. "US-Chine," The Associated Press, January 30, 1992.


8. Interview data; Bermudez Jr., Joseph S., and Gerardi, Greg, "An Analysis of North Korean Ballistic Missile Testing," Jane's Intelligence Review, Vol. 7, No. 4, April 1995, pp. 184-191; and Gertz, Bill. "Iran-Bound Mystery Freighter Carried Parts for Missiles," The Washington Times, July 16, 1992, p. A3.


9. Interview data; "North Korea Strengthens Ties With Syria, Iran and Pakistan - Foreign Minister Makes Official Tours," North Korea News, No. 645, August 24, 1992, pp. 5-6; "Foreign Minister Kim Yong-nam Visits Syria, Iran and Pakistan," North Korea News, No. 641, August 10, 1992, p. 5; "Kim Yong-nam Leaves For Syria, Iran, Pakistan," Pyongyang KCNA, 27 July 1992, as cited in FBIS-EAS-92-145, 28 July 1992, p. 15; and Weymouth, Lally. "In Israel, a New View Of Syria," The Washington Post, July 6, 1992.


10. Interview data; Bermudez Jr., Joseph S., and Gerardi, Greg, "An Analysis of North Korean Ballistic Missile Testing," Jane's Intelligence Review, Vol. 7, No. 4, April 1995, pp. 184-191; and Gertz, Bill. "Iran-Bound Mystery Freighter Carried Parts for Missiles," The Washington Times, July 16, 1992, p. A3.


11. "Bhutto Holds News Conference, Departs for DPRK," Radio Pakistan Network, 29 December 1993, as cited in FBIS-CHI-93-248, 29 December 1993; "Bhutto Holds News Conference, Departs for DPRK," Xinhua, 29 December 1993, as cited in FBIS-CHI-93-248, 29 Dec 1993; "Denies Possible Talks on Missiles," Radio Pakistan Network, 26 December 1993, as cited in FBIS-NES-93-246, 27 December 1993.


12. "Foreign Ministry Group Leaves for Iran, Pakistan," KCNA, 31 March 1994, as cited in FBIS-EAS-94-063, 1 April 1994, p. 13.


13. "Science Delegation Leaves for Pakistan 26 Sep," KCNA, 26 September 1994, as cited in FBIS-EAS-94-187, 26 September 1994.


14. Interview data; "Delegation Visiting Pakistan Attends Banquet," Pyongyang Korean Central Broadcasting Network, 24 November 1995, as cited in FBIS-EAS-95-227; "Choe Kwang Delegation Meets Pakistani President," Pyongyang Korean Central Broadcasting Network, 22 November 1995, as cited in FBIS-EAS-95-226; "Choe Kwang - Led Delegation Arrives in Pakistan," Pyongyang Korean Central Broadcasting Network, 20 November 1995, as cited in FBIS-EAS-95-224; and "Military Delegation Leaves for Pakistan," Pyongyang Korean Central Television Network, 19 November 1995, as cited in FBIS-EAS-95-223.


15. Interview Data, January 1998; and Department of State. "Imposition of Missile Proliferation Sanctions Against Entities in North Korea and Pakistan," Federal Register, May 4, 1998, Volume 63, Number 85.


16. Ibid.


17. Department of State. "Imposition of Missile Proliferation Sanctions Against Entities in Iran and North Korea," Federal Register, Volume 61, Number 114, June 12, 1996.


18. Dina Nath Mishra. "The Essence of Intolerance," The Observer, March 30, 1998.


19. A photograph illustrating the erecting arm of the TEL with the Ghauri upright prior to launch can be found at http://www.pak.gov.pk/govt/Ghauri.htm.


20. Koch, Andrew "Pakistan Persists with Nuclear Procurement," Jane's Intelligence Review, March 1997, Volume 9, Number 3, p. 131


21. "DPRK Offers 'Explosive Chemical' to Pakistan," Delhi Domestic Service, 29 May 1989, as cited in FBIS-NES-89-102, 30 May 1989, p. 60.


22. "DPRK Chemicals Bound for Pakistan Reportedly Seized," Hitel Database, 13 March 1996, as cited in FBIS-EAS-96-062-A; and "Taiwan Reportedly Finds `Nuclear Material' on DPRK Ship," KBS-1, 10 March 1996, as cited in FBIS-EAS-96-048.


23. "Article Tracks Arms Trade, Drug Connections," Aera, 1 August 1994, pp. 10-12, as cited in FBIS 1 August 1994.


24. Interview data; "N. Korea Set for More Ballistic Missile Tests," Jane's Defense Weekly, October 23, 1996, Vol. 26, No. 17, p. 5; and Bermudez Jr., Joseph S., and Gerardi, Greg, "An Analysis of North Korean Ballistic Missile Testing," Jane's Intelligence Review, Vol. 7, No. 4, April 1995, pp. 184-191.


25. Defense Intelligence Agency. Global Threats and Challenges: The Decades Ahead, Statement for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence by Lieutenant General Patrick M. Hughes, USA Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, 28 January 1998.