Sri Lanka got N Korea arms despite US protests: leaked cables

WASHINGTON, December 6, 2010 (AFP) – US diplomats play a major role in trying to prevent arms from reaching world hotspots, but cables released to The New York Times show an uphill battle against the likes of Iran, Syria and North Korea. In one cable given to the paper by WikiLeaks, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is reprimanded for supplying sophisticated weapons to the Shiite militant group Hezbollah one week after providing assurances he would not.

“In our meetings last week it was stated that Syria is not transferring any ‘new’ missiles to Lebanese Hezbollah,” said the cable sent by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in February.

“We are aware, however, of current Syrian efforts to supply Hezbollah with ballistic missiles. I must stress that this activity is of deep concern to my government, and we strongly caution you against such a serious escalation.”

A senior official at the Syrian foreign ministry rejected the allegations, but nine months on the flow is unchecked, The New York Times said, citing Pentagon officials.

US diplomats, the cables reveal, are constantly confronting foreign governments about shadowy front companies and banks suspected of involvement in the illegal arms market but successes ar