Barely 10 days before the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka in 2009, the US had contemplated imposing sanctions on Sri Lanka if Colombo went ahead with its plans of procuring arms from North Korea and Iran.
A new set of confidential cables leaked by Wikileaks said intelligence reports revealed that a Lankan company was planning to buy Rocket Propelled Grenade Launchers and multiple rocket launchers from a North Korean weapons firm.
The cable dated May 8, 2009 –- published by Oslo based Aftenposten newspaper -- also said: “Recent intelligence reports indicate that a Sri Lankan company responsible for the acquisition of equipment and services for the Sri Lankan military is negotiating the purchase of RPG-7, Rocket Propelled Grenade Launchers (RPGs) and Multiple Rocket Launchers (MRLs) from North Korea´s primary weapons trading firm.’’
It added: ``Moreover, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp force element located in Sri Lanka provided details to an Iranian shipping company for the sale of weapons to the Sri Lanka army.’’
The sanctions could have been imposed because “any arms purchase contracts entered into by Sri Lankan entities with North Korea or Iran, if implemented, could trigger sanctions against the entities involved under the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA).”
The cable added that purchases from either of the two countries would have been in violation of UN resolutions against trade with either country. Sri Lankan officials denied their involvement in any illegal weapon purchases, but the US ambassador in Colombo wasn’t convinced.
As background, the cable said that Colombo had attempted to purchase arms from countries under UN Security Council sanctions in 2006 as well.