USA officials and Western diplomat said that the Egyptian businessmen kept the transactions in the deal secret, noting that this incident prompted the latest in a series of intense United States complaints over Egyptian efforts to obtain banned military hardware from Pyongyang.
The ship carrying the weapons to Egypt was spotted in the summer of 2016 by USA intelligence, which tracked it as it left North Korea with a North Korean crew and watched it sail westward toward the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal.
A United Nations report from late February describes in detail the shipment of rocket-propelled grenades that has spurred an worldwide incident but the report leaves out a crucial fact now uncovered by The Washington Post.
A United Nations probe later found that the order had been made by Egyptian businessmen on behalf of the Egyptian military while taking stringent measures to keep the transaction hidden from public eyes.
Hidden under bins of iron ore the Egyptian officials discovered 30,000 rocket propelled grenades. They also reportedly said that the mysterious cargo was hidden by bulky tarps.
Egyptian foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid has denied a report by the Washington Post claiming that a shipment of weapons from North Korea seized by Egyptian authorities in 2016 was in fact destined for the Egyptian military.
The Washington Post revealed in a report Sunday that the name of an Egyptian company was stenciled on the crates.More news: Gold gains as talk of dovish Fed chair knocks dollar
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"Egypt was a consistent North Korean customer in the past", said Andrea Berger from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey told the New York Times.
"Egypt interdicted its own consignment of illicit North Korean weapons, and looked like the good guys for a year".
The Washington Post claims the rocket-propelled grenades deal was partly what caused the Trump administration to delay military aid in Cairo. The rocket grenade shipment was worth an estimated $23 million.
Antediluvian liberals who spent the 1960s and 1970s agitating for the Soviet Union as the protector of world peace will not enjoy reading the Post's explanation for the popularity of North Korean weapons.
Korea's leader, Kim Jong-Un, has managed to mitigate the crippling effect of the sanctions to some extent by continuing to sell cheap arms to countries such as Burma, Cuba, Syria, Eritrea and at least two terrorist groups, as well as key USA allies such as Egypt, analysts told the paper.
"Egypt will continue to abide by all Security Council resolutions and will always be in conformity with these resolutions as they restrain military purchases from North Korea", an Egyptian government statement said.