Trading Iranian sanction relief for an agreement allowing nuclear inspections is a fool’s bargain if Iran can get atomic weapon materials and technologies from North Korea.
Worse, our two committed U.S. enemies are collaborating in intercontinental missile development that can launch devastating electromagnetic pulse strikes over America — a threat I discussed in my column last week.
In 2012 Tehran and Pyongyang signed a technical cooperation pact that was represented to the media as an exchange to promote a variety of peaceful programs including information technology, biotechnology, renewable energy, and agriculture.
Not mentioned was an agreement for North Korea to increase exports of missiles and other weapons to Iran in exchange for badly needed currency and oil, sales which previously netted North Korea between $1.5 billion and $2 billion during 2009 alone.
The Iran-North Korea agreement bears a sobering resemblance to a 2002 accord between North Korea and Syria to jointly build a secret Syrian weapons grade plutonium complex. A 2007 Israeli airstrike ended that goal.
Military relationships between Pyongyang and Tehran have an extensive history. A North Korean defector testified before Congress that he traveled from North Korea to Iran in 1989 to help them test-fire a North Korean Missile. A North Korean freighter evaded U.S. surveillance and delivered a cargo of Scud missiles to the port of Bandar Abbas in 1992. And in 2002 a barrel of North Korean uranium which accidentally cracked open contaminated the tarmac of a new Tehran airport.
The New York Times reported in 2010 that Iran obtained 19 North Korean missiles that were “much more powerful than anything Washington has publicly conceded that Tehran has in its arsenal.” Included is an intermediate-range Shahab-3 based upon North Korea’s No Dong missile which can reach Israel.
A 2013 National Air and Space Intelligence Center report stated, “Iran has an extensive missile development program and has received support from entities in Russia, China, and North Korea.”
Ex-U.S. intelligence official Bruce Bechtol told the Christian Science Monitor in 2012 that the tempo of shipments of Korean technology and experts to Iran has likely increased. He believes the North “continues to assist Iran in its highly enriched uranium program by providing scientists, centrifuge technology, and even raw materials.”
Bechtol’s argument supports suspicions of other analysts that Iran is counting on North Korean expertise to construct a more powerful version of an aging five-megawatt “experimental” uranium reactor which has been used to fuel perhaps as many as a dozen warheads at its complex in Yongbyon.
Three of those were tested underground in 2006, 2009, and 2013. A fourth test is rumored to be planned, possibly one using highly enriched, Iranian-supplied uranium and centrifuges fabricated with the help of Iranian engineers.
New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Forbes.com writer Gordon Chang maintains that “in October 2012, Iran began stationing personnel at a military base in North Korea, in a mountainous area close to the Chinese border. The Iranians, from the Ministry of Defense and associated firms, reportedly are working on both missiles and nuclear weapons.”
Whereas a 2014 Congressional Research Service report states “there is no evidence that Iran and North Korea have engaged in nuclear-related trade or cooperation with each other, although ballistic missile technology cooperation between the two is significant and meaningful,” it admitted that its information sources might be insufficient.
Noting that “the number of unclassified reports to Congress on WMD-related matters has decreased considerably in recent years,” it blamed this circumstance on a repeal of requirements for the intelligence community to provide this information under the 2013 Intelligence Authorization Act.
Unsurprisingly, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz regards the Iran-North Korean connection as a big impediment to any meaningful threat resolution. He told the Jerusalem Post, “If this loophole is not closed, and if Iran under an agreement can have some kind of research and development, knowledge exchange, and participation in other countries, then this is also the way to bypass an agreement by simply not doing it alone in Iran, but by cooperating with North Korea or other rogue countries.”
Meanwhile, as discussions bypass considerations regarding Iran’s missile program and ignore threats to obliterate Israel, how cognizant are Secretary of State Kerry and other desperate-for-a-deal U.S. negotiators about this joint Iran-North Korea threat? Queried on this at a House Committee on Foreign Affairs meeting last July, Obama administration chief negotiator Wendy Sherman said, “I think any further discussion on that should probably take place in a closed session.”
Perhaps that discussion should consider another matter as well. As North Korean centrifuges continue to spin unchecked and unabated, removal of P5+1 sanctions will provide even more money for Tehran to spend on components for nuclear warheads which may be merely an air flight rather than a year away.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of “Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom”(2015) and “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax” (2012). Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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