(LEAD) Scud missiles fired into Saudi Arabia from Yemen traced to N. Korea: official
(ATTN: UPDATES with comment by South Korean official; ADDS background)
SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) -- Scud missiles fired into Saudi Arabia by Yemeni rebels in recent months came from North Korea, a South Korean intelligence official said Wednesday, in the latest case that illustrated North Korea's support for the weapons programs of some countries in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia has shot down about 40 percent of some 20 Scud missiles fired by Yemen's Houthi rebels, said the official, who is familiar with the issue.
He did not give further details on how South Korea reached the conclusion that the missiles originated from North Korea. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media.
Missile exports have long been a major source of hard currency for North Korea.
"North Korea has sold missiles to Yemen and sent missile engineers to that country in the 1990s," said a former North Korean official, who was in a position to know about the arms deals.
Another former North Korean intelligence official in Seoul said North Korea sold many Scud missiles to countries in the Middle East, noting Egypt was the hub of North Korea's arms trade in the region.
The two former North Korean officials, who later defected to South Korea, asked not to be identified, citing the issue's sensitivity.
North Korea's Scud-B missiles and Scud-C missiles have a range of 300 kilometers and 500 kilometers, respectively, according to South Korea's Defense Ministry.