Wikileaks: SL denies NK arms charge


A senior military official said there had been no transactions with North Korea

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Sri Lanka says the country never purchased any arms, ammunition and equipment from North Korea during the war against the LTTE.

A senior official involved in procurement of arms on Thursday (Dec. 9) told The Island that there hadn’t been any transactions with NK for a long time.

He was responding to information in diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks of US diplomatic protests about North Korea’s alleged sale of rocket-propelled launchers to Sri Lanka in early 2009.

The official pointed out that the international media may have wrongly reported that Sri Lanka was acquiring arms from NK, whereas the actual beneficiary of such arms sales could have been the LTTE.

Alleging possible NK support for the JVP-led 1971 insurgency, Sri Lanka broke-off diplomatic ties with that country.

Military sources say that Sri Lanka hadn’t purchased any major items even from South Korea except some Fast Attack Craft (FACs) acquired in the 80s during the JRJ administration.

Authoritative sources told The Island that the leaked US cables, which had been the basis for media speculation on Sri Lanka receiving NK arms, could have dealt with the LTTE procuring arms from China and transferring them overland through NK to be loaded into LTTE ships.

The Sri Lanka Navy destroyed eight LTTE ships (one in Sept. 2006 and seven in 2007). Of the eight ships, destruction of four, including the largest ‘floating arsenal’ was made possible by the US intelligence.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government went to the extent of raising the issue with China, which led to tighter monitoring of armaments sales. Sources said that it had a disastrous impact on Sri Lanka’s legitimate purchases from China.

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