SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea has denounced allegations that it supplied missiles to Hamas and material support to Hezbollah as "sheer fiction" and a "sinister" effort to link Pyongyang to Middle East disputes.
The rebuttal from the foreign ministry was carried in a statement late on Monday by the North's official KCNA news agency.
It followed a weekend report by Britain's Daily Telegraph, citing Western security sources, that the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas had already made an initial cash down payment to secure additional missiles and communications equipment from North Korea.
That report came days after a US federal judge in Washington ruled that North Korea had provided advanced weaponry to the militant Hezbollah group in Lebanon.
"This is utterly baseless sophism and sheer fiction let loose by the US to isolate (North Korea) internationally," the foreign ministry statement said.
"Lurking behind this propaganda is a sinister intention of the US to justify its criminal acts of backing Israel," it said, accusing Washington of seeking to stir up anti-Pyongyang sentiment by linking the North to the Middle East disputes.
Weapons exports are a crucial source of hard currency for North Korea, which is known to have long-standing arms trade links with Syria and Iran.
In 2009, a plane loaded with 35 tonnes of weapons from North Korea made an emergency landing in Bangkok, where it was impounded.
Security officials believe the flight was bound for Iran and that the arms were eventually destined for Hezbollah.