Korea Already Exporting to Iran

Here’s what would happen if North Korea exported nuclear weapons to the US’s enemies

North Korea shocked the world in the early morning hours of July 4 by launching a ballistic missile that could reach the US mainland – but North Korea has long had the ability to make and detonate nuclear devices.

But North Korea does not sell, export, or use such nuclear devices on anyone because if they did, the consequences would be phenomenal.

“North Korea sells all kinds of weapons” to African countries, Cuba, and its Asian neighbors, according to Omar Lamrani, a senior military analyst at Stratfor, a geopolitical consulting firm.

The most dangerous aspects of that trade has been with Syria and Iran in terms of missiles and nuclear reactors they helped the Syrians build before the Israelis knocked that out with an airstrike,” said Lamrani. “The most frightening is the potential sale of nuclear warheads.”

With some of the harshest sanctions on earth imposed on North Korea, it’s easy to imagine the nation attempting to raise money through illegal arms sales to the US’s enemies, which could even include non-state actors like al Qaeda or ISIS.

While procuring the materials and manufacturing a nuclear weapon would represent an incredible technical and logistical hardships for a non-state actor, a single compact warhead could be in the range of capabilities for a non-state actor like Hezbollah, said Lamrani.

Even under the close watch of US intelligence, if North Korea really wanted to, they could get a small nuclear device out of the country.

Furthermore, the US’s enemies would see a huge strategic benefit from having or demonstrating a nuclear capability, but with that benefit would come a burden.

If US intelligence caught wind of any plot to arm a terror group, it would make every possible effort to rip that weapon from the group’s hands before they could use it. News of a nuclear-armed terror group would fast-track a global response and steamroll whatever actor took on such a bold stance.

And not only would the terror group catch hell, North Korea would too.

“North Korea understands if they do give nuclear weapons, it could backfire on them,” said Lamrani. “If a warhead explodes, through nuclear forensics and isotope analysts, you can definitely trace it back to North Korea.”

At that point, North Korea would go from being an adversarial state that developed nuclear weapons as a means of regime security to a state that has enabled and abetted nuclear terrorism or proliferation.

This would change the calculus of how the world deals with North Korea, and make a direct attack much more likely.

Right now, North Korea has achieved regime security with long-range nuclear arms. If they sold those arms to someone else, they would effectively risk it all.

The Korean-Iranian Problem

Iran-North-Korea-Nuclear-WeaponsThe Iran Problem

I don’t believe the North Korean ruler is insane. And if it was just a North Korea nuclear problem, I think we could deter and contain North Korea. We really have an Iran problem.

Seriously, North Korea has not rolled the dice to attack South Korea since the armistice suspended the Korean War in the middle of the last century. They didn’t do it when they had a decent shot at winning such a war and a Soviet ally to deter our nuclear forces. Would they really try it now?

Even with nukes that deter our nuclear response?

Would North Korea really launch at one of our cities?

When we might shoot it (or them) down? And when we’d nuke North Korea in return even if we shot down every North Korean missile? (Not their cities. We aren’t mass murderers of innocents. But we would have to nuke a number of North Korean military and nuclear assets if we didn’t want to see our nuclear deterrent reputation dissolve in the mistaken notion that “no harm, no foul” rules apply.)

Victor Hanson says that we can’t attack North Korea to destroy all their nukes and we can’t live with a nuclear-armed North Korea.

I think that we can’t live with a nuclear-armed North Korea as long as it has a nutball-run Iran with the desire to get nuclear weapons and the cash to buy them from North Korea.

Seriously, all the promises Iran has made to limit–for an increasingly short time frame that will end before you know it–their domestic nuclear programs don’t cover buying nukes from someone. From someone like North Korea that is desperate for money.

Even assuming success with Hanson’s response of a long expensive struggle to build the capacity to defeat North Korean nuclear missiles that avoids the shortcomings of attacking North Korea yet refuses to live with the threat, the problem of Iran as a nuclear customer remains.

North Korea may be rational enough to deter. But is Iran with their religious zealotry that may embrace nuclear flames to purge the world and bring their time of glory out a risk we want to take?

Supporting a revolt of Iran’s long-suffering people to get rid of the mullah-run regime would make the North Korea problem more solvable.

Indeed, getting rid of Iran’s mullah regime cuts the Gordian Knot for a lot of our problems.

Iran and Korea: The Elephant in the Room

GETTY'Trump is risking WAR Putin ally warns US President over North Korea crisisNorth Korea and Iran Are Working Together on Nuclear Weapons Technology

Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told lawmakers that South Korea will explore ways to restore disconnected inter-Korean communication channels following Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests in 2016.

The U.S. circulated a draft resolution that would impose new sanctions on North Korea following its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, two United Nations diplomats told the Associated Press on Monday.

“China has many times talked about its principled position, namely that at the same time as the global community [is] making necessary responses to North Korean acts that go against UN Security Council resolutions, they must step up efforts to promote talks and manage and control the situation”, Chinese News Agency Xinhua quoted Xi as saying during his meetings with Trump.

Haley told the UN Security Council last week that the United States planned a new resolution which would ramp up sanctions on North Korea but also ensure that existing measures are enforced.

“Considering how North Korea does not have any testing facilities [for re-entry technology], the agency believes [North Korea] has not yet secured that technology”, he said. North Korea has said this is an ICBM.

Pyongyang stated last week the Hwasong-14 flew 580 miles at a maximum altitude of 1,740 miles, and claimed the launch was a “successful” demonstration of ICBM capability.

Yet within hours of the statement, the US and South Korea announced they had held a new ballistic missile drill to counter “North Korea’s destabilizing and unlawful actions”, according to media reports.

Xi emphasised “efforts to promote talks” with North Korea and did not change his passive attitude regarding pressure that could lead to a destabilisation of the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Donald Trump
GETTYMr Trump is sleepwalking into a”war, a leading ally of Mr Putin has warned

Meanwhile, the U.S.is upping the ante on China by slapping in late June sanctions on the Bank of Dandong, the mainland lender accused of facilitating money laundering for North Korea.

The Justice Department said the Chi’s network hit transactions which helped fund North Korea’s military and arms programs, the newspaper reported.

Todd Sherwood, an attorney who served in the Air Force for 15 years, told The Post that if North Korea were to do anything serious, the USA military reaction would probably be “disproportionate” and severe.

Last Tuesday, Moscow, and Beijing released a joint announcement that united them together as one party with similar views on North Korea.

“We really must think very carefully about what is the best approach in the Security Council because a resolution, sanctions, are themselves not an objective”, he said.

It should be abundantly clear now to people who still believe diplomacy (appeasement) can work that economic sanctions have been a dismal failure to stop North Korea from crossing that red line.

Russian President Vladimir Putin today underlined the importance of staying calm in the North Korea crisis, saying nuclear-armed Pyongyang should be dealt with in a “pragmatic” manner.

The Nuclear Reality of North Korea and Iran

North KoreaJohn Bolton: Every Time You Hear North Korea Think of Iran

by John Hayward6 Jul 2017585

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton talked about North Korea’s Fourth of July missile test launch on Thursday’s edition of Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Alex Marlow.

Bolton said intercontinental ballistic missiles are a goal North Korea has been working towards since the early 1990s, as part of the outlaw regime’s quest for “deliverable nuclear weapons,” but it was still surprising to many observers that a missile with true intercontinental capability was successfully launched this week.

“It’s capable of hitting Alaska. It can’t hit the Lower 48 yet, but that’s only a matter of time,” he said. “The only other thing we need to find out, and I don’t want to be on the receiving end of it, is whether North Korea has miniaturized its nuclear devices – of which it’s already detonated five – to the point they can put it under an ICBM nose cone.”

“I’ve been talking about this for 20 years, and so have many other people. And yet, for the last three U.S. administrations – eight years of Clinton, eight years of Bush, eight years of Obama – people have tried to negotiate with North Korea to talk them out of their nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. It’s failed consistently for 25 years,” he said.

“That’s why Trump has inherited this mess. The issue is whether he can find a way out of it, or whether he succumbs to what I know the State Department, and much of the Defense Department, and much of the intelligence community are telling him: just keep doing what we’ve been doing before. Because that will result in a nuclear North Korea,” Bolton warned.

“And by the way, you can already see the mainstream media and academia preparing us to live in a world where North Korea has nuclear weapons,” he added, citing a New York Times op-ed to that effect from Wednesday.

Bolton judged that Japan would continue to be a reliable ally against North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, since the Japanese are well aware their cities lie within range of North Korea’s missiles. On the other hand, he said “all of the evidence points to China and Russia as, at best, turning a blind eye to what the North has been up to, and more likely facilitating the North’s nuclear and missile programs.”

He said his support from China and Russia was kept low-profile to avoid sanctions, but there was no way to conceal that China supplies North Korea with much of its oil and food, giving Beijing more than enough leverage to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear missile program if it truly wanted to.

“China is playing a double game. They say they don’t want the North Koreans to have nuclear weapons but they haven’t shut it down,” Bolton charged. “It’s a very dangerous situation. Nobody should underestimate it.”

“One other point I would make: Every time you hear the words ‘North Korea,’ think of the word ‘Iran,’” he added. “Because whatever North Korea can do, Iran can do the next day by sending them a check in the appropriate amount. We have stovepiped these two nuclear proliferation threats for a very long time. We need to stop doing that because every day that goes by brings us closer to the day when one or both of them can hit the United States.”

Bolton cited North Korea’s five known nuclear test detonations, and its successful test of ballistic missile technology, to say it is a “more imminent threat” than Iran, but stressed that North Korea and Iran have been working “extremely closely on ballistic missiles” since the Nineties, “and there’s every reason to think they have worked extremely closely on the nuclear program as well.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me if a big chunk of Iran’s uranium enrichment program is not in Iran, where we know where it is, but under a mountain in North Korea,” he said. “We have very poor intelligence on North Korea, so it’s a big advantage for Iran to work with them.”

“When the Israelis destroyed that reactor in Syria in September 2007, it was being built by North Koreans,” he recalled. “Well, who paid for that? North Korea doesn’t do anything for free. I doubt that Syria had the resources to do it. Quite likely it was Iran. When that reactor was found by the Israelis and destroyed, the lesson I think to Iran was, ‘Build it someplace where the Israelis can’t find it.’ That’s why they may well have turned to North Korea.”

Bolton noted that U.S. and South Korean military officials have been warning for the past year that North Korea was on the verge of developing missiles that could hit the West Coast of the United States, perhaps as early as 2018.

“In public testimony three or four months ago now, the head of the U.S. Strategic Command told Congress that the only thing he had any doubt about was whether North Korea had fully conquered the miniaturization tasks to take a nuclear device and make it small enough to put under an ICBM nose cone. So even just three or four months ago, he didn’t have any doubt about the range,” he noted.

“There are a lot of other technical steps to overcome here. You can put the nose cone and the warhead up, you can bring it back down, but it’s a pretty rocky ride. You have to make sure that the warhead will detonate at the appropriate time,” he explained.

“We don’t know whether the North has mastered that technology, but I would be very cautious about intelligence that says they can’t do this, and they can’t do that, and they can’t do the other thing, because the first American reaction to this launch was ‘it was an intermediate range ballistic missile, not an ICBM,” and we were wrong. And we didn’t detect this one before the launch. I think we’ve had enough lessons in intelligence being imperfect,” he said.

“Don’t count on our lack of knowledge meaning that the North doesn’t have the capability,” he advised. “They may well have the capability. We may simply not have detected it.”

John Bolton is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and head of his own political action committee, BoltonPAC.

Iranian nuclear weapons closer to reality

Closer to the Korean Showdown Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington TimesNorth Korean nuclear weapons closer to reality

The Washington Times http://www.washingtontimes.com
ANALYSIS/OPINION:

North Korea recently test-launched a long-range missile capable of reaching Alaska.

When North Korea eventually builds a missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, it will double down on its well-known shakedown of feigning indifference to American deterrence while promising to take out Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle unless massive aid is delivered to Pyongyang.

Kim Jong-un rightly assumes that wealthy Western nations would prefer to pay bribe money than suffer the loss of a city — and that they have plenty of cash for such concessions. He is right that the medicine of taking out Mr. Kim’s missiles is considered by Western strategists to be even worse than the disease of living with a lunatic regime that has nukes.

No wonder that the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations had few answers to serial North Korean lying and deceit about its nuclear intentions.

Sanctions were eventually dropped or watered down either on reports of the mass starvation of innocent North Korean civilians or on false promises of better North Korean behavior.

China publicly promised to help reign in its unhinged client while privately doing nothing. Apparently, Beijing found a rabid North Korean government useful in bothering rivals such as the Japanese and South Koreans while keeping the United States off balance in Asia and the Pacific. The dynamic economies and pacifism of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan were taken for granted by China as easy targets for coercion and blackmail.

Russia is never any help. Under President Vladimir Putin, Russian foreign policy is reductive: Whatever causes the United States and its allies a major headache is by definition welcomed.

There seems to be zero chance of a North Korean coup or a Chinese intervention to remove Mr. Kim. The brainwashed North Korean population is cut off from global news and knows nothing other than three generations of Kim family dictators. The military junta that surrounds Mr. Kim is likely as aggressive as its leader. These functionaries see his survival as the only guarantee of their own privilege and influence.

A preemptory strike might not get all of North Korea’s nuclear missiles and could prompt a conventional response that would wreck nearby Seoul — a scenario about which North Korean openly brags.

Pyongyang believes that only the Israelis are wild enough to preempt and bomb neighboring nuclear facilities, as they did in 1981 against Iraq and again in 2007 against Syria. And yet Israel attacked only because neither Iraq nor Syria had created deterrence by possession of a single deliverable nuclear weapon.

What are the bad choices for the Western alliance in defanging North Korea before it miscalculates and sends a missile that prompts a war?

Sanctions have in the past crippled Pyongyang. But this time around they should not be lifted despite the prospect of ensuing chaos in North Korea. It may be tragic that a captive population suffers for the lunacy of its leader, but such misery is still preferable to an all-out war.

Nor should China be exempt from accompanying stiff trade restrictions. Almost every weapon component in the hands of North Korea either came directly from China or was purchased by cash earned through Chinese trade and remittances. Certainly, China would not allow South Korea to send missiles its way along with promises of nuking Beijing while the U.S. kept still about the provocation.

Australia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States need to coordinate a massive missile defense project aimed at ending North Korean assumptions that even one of its missiles has a chance to reach its intended target. Such a Marshall Plan-like investment would also send a message to China that its own nuclear deterrent could be compromised and nullified by the defensive efforts of its immediate neighbors. China has made life difficult for the U.S. and its Asian allies, and it should learn that the allies could make things even more problematic for China.

None of our allies in Asia and the Pacific wish to develop nuclear weapons, both for historic and economic reasons. But the United States should inform Russia and China that allied democracies in the region may choose to develop a nuclear deterrent to stop North Korean antics — a development that would prove disastrous to both Russian and Chinese strategic planning.

Asia is already a dangerous place, with both Indian and Pakistani nuclear missiles and a likely nuclear Iran in the not-so-distant future. Do Moscow and Beijing wish to add three or four more nuclear powers near their borders?

The current danger is not just limited to North Korea. Iran, a beneficiary of North Korean nuclear assistance, is watching how far Mr. Kim can go. It will certainly make the necessary strategic adjustments if he succeeds in shaking down the Western world.

We are nearing an existential showdown, as failed efforts at bribery and appeasement have run their course.

Only a tough, messy confrontation now can prevent a disastrous war later on.

• Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Iran and Korea: Brothers in Nuclear Arms

http://www.eurojewcong.org/img/articles/638x389/8929.jpgBrothers in Nuclear Arms :: The Market Oracle ::

Market Oracle Ltd

Nuclear Weapons Jul 12, 2017 – 09:11 AM GMT

By: John_Mauldin

Remember Iran? The prospect of war with North Korea has made it easy to overlook this other nearly nuclear power that was until recently the object of Washington’s nonproliferation efforts. Tehran was dead set on developing a nuclear weapon, but it agreed to halt its program in 2015 after extensive negotiations with the United States. Granted, the rise of the Islamic State, a common enemy of the United States and Iran, and years of economic attrition wrought by international sanctions forced its hand. Still, Iran has complied with the agreement by subjecting itself to inspections meant to ensure it doesn’t enrich its uranium. 

A nuclear weapons program, however, requires more than just weapons-grade fissile material. It also requires a warhead that is small and sturdy enough to survive the flight on a ballistic missile. And then, of course, it requires the ballistic missile itself – hence the attention North Korean missiles have received lately. North Korea has lots of fissile material. And it most likely has a miniaturized warhead, according to U.S. intelligence officials. Pyongyang is, in other words, one ballistic missile away from being able to strike the United States.

This precarious state of affairs has already affected U.S.-Iran relations. Since the nuclear deal strictly prohibits the enrichment of uranium but polices ballistic missile tests much more leniently, Iran has unsurprisingly conducted several such tests. The first, reportedly of a variant of North Korea’s most sophisticated intermediate-range ballistic missile, the Musudan or Hwasong-10, came on Jan. 29. The second, reportedly a failed test of a submarine-launched cruise missile, came on May 2. North Korea and Iran are the only two countries that operate the type of submarine from which the missile was launched. A third incident came on June 18, when, for the first time, Iran fired missiles on Islamic State facilities in Syria. It wasn’t exactly a test, but it served the same purpose.

The similarities between the two programs didn’t go unnoticed. Some reports allege active collusion between Iran and North Korea; others allege none whatsoever. The following report will attempt to determine the extent of their cooperation and what it means for U.S. relations with Iran – and for U.S. tensions with North Korea.

Introduction

Iran’s relationship with North Korea began with a coup. In 1953, the same year the armistice ended hostilities on the Korean Peninsula, a faction of the Iranian military, supported and funded by the United States and the United Kingdom, overthrew Mohammad Mossadegh, Iran’s democratically elected prime minister. Washington was worried that Mossadegh would ally with the Soviet Union, and London wanted to regain some of the profits it lost when Mossadegh nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1951. The coup was “successful” in that it aligned Iran squarely with the West for nearly 30 years. But it was nearly 30 years marked by resentment and distrust among Iranians, who felt that Iran should not be a Western puppet state. They expressed their feelings in the 1979 revolution, which created the modern Islamic Republic.

It was a watershed moment in the Middle East if for no other reason than that it led to the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). The government in Baghdad, led by Saddam Hussein and dominated by Sunni Arabs who oversaw a majority Shiite country, viewed the establishment of a Shiite Persian state as an existential threat. So Iraq attacked Iran, thinking it would be too disheveled from its revolution to put up much of a fight. (Adding Iranian oil to its reserves was a nice but ancillary bonus.) Iraq was wrong. Early setbacks forced Saddam to sue for peace in 1982. Iran declined, and it prepared for its invasion of Iraq.

Iran’s invasion of Iraq fared no better than Iraq’s invasion of Iran. The United States intervened on Baghdad’s behalf, supplying weapons, intelligence, and billions of dollars of economic aid to preserve the balance of power in the region – this, despite the fact that Saddam still had an arsenal of Soviet-built ballistic missiles, which he used, in his desperation, against Iranian cities from afar. Tehran learned just how valuable such weapons could be, but it couldn’t rely on the United States or the Soviet Union to supply them. It needed to procure them on its own.

Enter North Korea, which, like Iran, had begun to doubt the reliability of Soviet support. And so it spent much of the 1970s developing its ballistic missile capabilities. Toward the end of the decade, Pyongyang acquired from Egypt Scud-B missiles, which it was able to reverse engineer (it’s unclear if it had foreign assistance in this regard), test in 1984, and produce domestically in 1987. Iran, meanwhile, had acquired small numbers of Scud-B missiles from Libya and then from Syria, but it needed more of them to fight Iraq. And North Korea was selling.

The Kim regime in North Korea had closed itself off economically from the rest of the world, so now that it could produce ballistic missiles at home, it needed money more than it needed anything else. Iran, which needed missiles more than anything else, was the ideal partner. Details are scarce, but what evidence does exist sheds some light on their budding commercial partnership. In 1983, Iranian officials visited North Korea and, according to the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, reached an agreement to finance the development of Scud missiles. In 1986, Iran restructured North Korea’s $170 million oil debt. In return, Pyongyang reduced the price of Scud missiles it sold Iran by 70 percent. By the end of the 1980s, North Korea had provided Iran between 200 and 300 Scud-B and Scud-C missiles. And in doing so, it protracted one of the deadliest wars of the second half of the 20th century.

The Iran-North Korea relationship was thus born of shared needs and fears. But it was also, notably, born of failed U.S. Cold War strategies. In its efforts to prevent the Soviets from expanding into Iran, Washington installed a regime that would eventually drive the Iranians away from the West. In its failures in the Korean War, Washington would help set the stage for a North Korean regime that would despise the United States. Long before President George W. Bush put Iran and North Korea into the “axis of evil,” the U.S. government created the conditions that brought the two countries together in the first place. They oppose the United States even today.

Where the Trail Goes Cold

The Iran-Iraq War ended in 1988, but the Iran-North Korea relationship stayed intact. Iran wasn’t particularly interested in being a permanent client of North Korea; it wanted to produce missiles on its own. But North Korea had a head start on them, and Iranian geopolitics demanded initiative, not patience. And it demanded new weapons. The Scud-B and Scud-C missiles had a range of only 200 miles (300 kilometers) and 400 miles respectively. So though they were effective against Iraq, close as it was to Iran, they would be less so against adversaries farther afield. By 1988 or 1989, North Korea had begun to develop a ballistic missile, the Nodong, that had a range of 600-900 miles, according to a report from the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College. Acquiring the Nodong would mark a great leap forward in Iranian missile capability. And so, in 1992, Pyongyang and Tehran agreed to a military cooperation agreement whereby Iran agreed to provide $500 million toward “joint development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.”

A report from the Congressional Research Service notes that production of the Nodong in Iran itself was a significant part of the agreement. This report corroborates an annual threat assessment from the U.S. intelligence community indicating that Iran’s domestic production capability increased dramatically in the 1990s. By mid-1998, Iran could test fire its own version of the Nodong, which it calls the Shahab-3. (Dinshaw Mistry, an expert on the proliferation of missile technology at the University of Cincinnati, notes that at the time, Iran still needed guidance and motor systems from North Korea, but that the fuel tanks, warhead and body sections were built by Iran.)

Iran and North Korea would cooperate on ballistic missile technology into the 2000s. Though Tehran admitted in recent years to having purchased Scuds from North Korea, the government has since insisted that it is now self-sufficient. Its Sejjil missile program attests to its independence. With a range of 1,200 miles, the Sejjil was last tested successfully in 2011. (Either the program has encountered unforeseen obstacles or Tehran doesn’t want to incur penalties from the United States. The latter is the more likely explanation.) Yet some reports suggest transactions continued even into the 2010s. The Strategic Studies Institute report suggests that Iran acquired Musudan missiles, a North Korean-made intermediate-range missile with a range of between 1,600 and 2,500 miles, in 2005. In 2007, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed that Iran had in fact bought a Musudan at some point prior to 2007. And according to Reuters, which cited a confidential U.N. report, North Korea and Iran regularly exchanged ballistic technology as recently as 2011.

It’s at this point that the trail goes cold. In 2014 and 2016, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the cooperation between North Korea and Iran had lessened considerably, to the point that he assessed that Iran was not receiving assistance with its program for the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile. A February 2016 report by the Congressional Research Service takes this a step further, concluding that Iran “has likely exceeded North Korea’s ability to develop, test, and build ballistic missiles.” The fact that Iran has independently enhanced the Shahab-3 design, making it more accurate even at its intermediate range, attests to the veracity of the report.

Regardless of when Iran last purchased North Korean missiles, it’s important to note that Tehran has largely stopped testing those it currently has, for it indicates the government’s long-term strategy. If Iran is testing shorter-range, domestically produced missiles to increase their accuracy, it suggests Iran is preparing for local conflicts in its own backyard. But if Iran is attempting to boost the range of its ballistic missiles, that means it is actively pursuing an ICBM, which in the long term has only one strategic purpose for Iran: the creation of a nuclear deterrent against the United States.

This is why there’s been so much controversy over Iran’s latest ballistic missile tests. “Multiple intelligence officials” said that the missile from Iran’s July 2016 tests was a Musudan, according to a report from Fox News. Anonymous sources in a Reuters report said that the missile tested on Jan. 29 was also a Musudan. If true, it suggests that Iran has every intention of developing an ICBM, and that it is cooperating with North Korea to do so.

These reports, however, are hardly incontrovertible. They are unconfirmed and rely only on anonymous sources. The relative success of the Iran tests, moreover, suggests that Tehran is using missiles it built itself, not missiles from North Korea, which has struggled to operationalize the Musudan.

Politics is at play too. There are political factions in the United States and in Arab states of the Persian Gulf that want to depict Iran as aggressive – reports that Iran is testing North Korean missiles are good ammunition in that regard. The more likely explanation is that Iran, while generally self-sufficient, still cooperates to a low degree with North Korea over research and parts.

Inconsistent Stories

Ballistic missiles, however, are just one component of a nuclear weapons program. The component that receives the most scrutiny, perhaps rightly so, is the procurement and enrichment of fissile material. In this arena, there is less evidence that Iran and North Korea are cooperating – less evidence, but evidence nonetheless.

We know that North Korea and Iran were clients of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani scientist caught for selling information on his country’s nuclear program in 2004. In 2009, the U.S. State Department confirmed that Iran had bought from Khan centrifuge components, centrifuges and designs – all of which are needed to enrich uranium or plutonium – and asserted that North Korea had bought similar equipment. A Congressional Research Service report from 2016 was more blunt, noting that that North Korea and Iran both received designs and materials “related to uranium enrichment” from the Khan network. None of this proves that Iran and North Korea were working in cahoots with one another; it simply proves that they were concurrently working with technologies from the same vendor.

Perhaps more indicative of cooperation are reports that Iran and North Korea worked together to build the nuclear facility at al-Kibar in northeastern Syria. The exact date they began to do so is unknown, but it was likely in the early 2000s. Der Spiegel, the German weekly, was one of the first sources to assert that both North Korean and Iranian scientists were actively cooperating in building Syria’s nuclear reactor. In 2008, Der Spiegel also reported that the reactor was seen as a back-up to Iran’s program. Sankei Shimbun, the Japanese daily, corroborates the report, adding that North Korean scientists had traveled to Iran to help develop a reprocessing plant in Syria capable of processing Iranian fuel rods. And according to a report from Israel’s Ynet news website, a senior Israeli military official, who was part of a panel assembled by then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to report on the Syrian nuclear issue, said that Iran has funneled $1 billion into al-Kibar, noting that Iran could use the facility as a stand-in if it were unable to complete its uranium enrichment program.

There are some inconsistencies in these stories. For one thing, Iran has consistently worked with uranium, but the reactor at al-Kibar is believed to have been designed to enrich plutonium. The differences between uranium and plutonium are not insignificant. Uranium is more often used in commercial settings and is easier, if more expensive, to acquire and purify. Enriching plutonium requires less energy, and less plutonium is required for a bomb. This made plutonium the preferred choice for cash-strapped North Korea in the 2000s. (Pyongyang has since prioritized uranium.) This means the equipment used to enrich fissile material also differed. It also means that Iran would need a reprocessing plant, and there’s no evidence that it’s ever had one. So it’s hard to see how cooperating in the 2000s would help either side advance their respective programs.

Still, it’s hard to deny that to some degree North Korea and Iran cooperated in Syria. Iran was certainly involved in raising the funds for the nuclear facility. But it’s a far cry from proving the two countries helped each other advance their own enrichment programs. And it’s now a bit of a moot point; Israel destroyed the al-Kibar facility in Operation Orchard in 2007. If the conspiracy were real, it’s since been disrupted.

The more damning allegations of collusion, and the ones more difficult to prove, stem from reports that Iranian scientists have participated in North Korean nuclear tests. According to an anonymous source quoted in Sankei Shimbun, an Iranian delegation observed a North Korean nuclear test in May 2009 and engaged in meetings with high-level government officials in Pyongyang thereafter. Kyodo News, a Japanese news agency, reported that Iran paid the North Koreans tens of millions of dollars to allow Iranian scientists to witness a North Korean nuclear test in February 2013. Kyodo also reported that Iranian Defense Ministry officials had been in North Korea for some months before the test. Some Gulf Arab sources have gone so far as to say that the 2013 test was actually an Iranian test and that North Korea is just a surrogate for Iran’s nuclear program.

It’s practically impossible to prove whether Iran and North Korea have actively shared technology; such is the nature of intelligence. But one particularly damning piece of evidence is that since 2010, North Korea has significantly increased its production of highly enriched uranium. The latest estimates of its stockpiles come from an expert who visited the Yongbyon centrifuge facility in 2010. According to the expert, North Korea may have been able to increase its stockpile of weapons-grade uranium to 900 pounds, enough for 20 bombs, in 2016, with a capability to produce enough uranium for seven new bombs a year. His figures exclude the 119 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium, enough for six to eight bombs, North Korea already had.

For more than a decade, U.S. officials have insisted that there is no evidence that Iran and North Korea are cooperating outside the development of ballistic missiles. Maybe they’re right. Maybe they’re wrong. Maybe they’re lying. In all likelihood, their explanations are more plausible than a handful of unconfirmed news reports. Still, the fact that North Korean uranium enrichment has surged as Iranian enrichment has stopped should be more concerning, given their long history of cooperation in other areas.

The Tide Turns

The strategic implications of cooperation, however unclear it may be, are manifold. Iran has no desire to maintain a relationship with a country if that relationship economically alienates it from the rest of the world. The Iranian economy was in tatters before U.S.-led sanctions were partially eased in 2015. In the two years before their easing, Iranian gross domestic product decreased by 9 percent, according to the Congressional Research Service. Oil exports, a huge source of revenue, decreased by 56 percent between 2011 and 2013. And Tehran was unable to access the reserves it held in foreign banks.

The nuclear deal revitalized the Iranian economy. In the first year after sanctions relief, growth stabilized at 0.5 percent, and then averaged around 7 percent in 2016. The increase was mostly due to resumed crude oil exports; oil sector growth totaled 61.3 percent (55.4 percent and 67.2 percent in the first and second quarters, respectively). Iranian oil exports have reached pre-sanctions levels, and Iran gained immediate access to $120 billion in reserves, as well as new opportunities to attract foreign direct investment and to have its banks rejoin the global financial system.

Yet several sanctions are still in place, discouraging the kind of investment projects and financial transactions Iran needs to jump-start its economy. And more sanctions may soon be in the offing, thanks to a bill recently passed in the U.S. Senate in response to Iran’s missile tests.

Iran therefore cannot afford to cooperate with North Korea, an isolated pariah state that has become Washington’s primary security concern. But it doesn’t really need to. North Korea may have been a useful partner for the past few decades, but it no longer has anything Iran needs. Iran can produce ballistic missiles domestically, and it was nearly able to enrich weapons-grade uranium before signing the nuclear agreement. It doesn’t need, moreover, any assistance fighting the regional proxy wars in which it is currently engaged. Put differently, Iran’s interests – economic recovery, defeating the Islamic State – diverge from North Korea’s. A relationship with Pyongyang hinders its ability to pursue those interests.

Another thing to bear in mind is that the Iran nuclear agreement is starting to fray because the shared interests that precipitated it may no longer be shared. Yes, sanctions and domestic politics influenced Iran’s decision to agree to the deal, but the primary cause was the Islamic State. Three years ago, IS was so strong that many rightly believed it could take Damascus, the capital of Syria and an important ally of Iran. The group held vast tracts of territory in Iraq, including Mosul, and directly threatened the parts of Iraq dominated by the Shiites, whom Iran supports. Neither Iran nor the United States could allow the Islamic State to dominate the region. That meant putting aside their differences for a common purpose.

After years of fighting, the tide is finally turning against the Islamic State. But as it weakens, so too does the U.S.-Iran alliance. Once IS is defeated, Iran will immediately move to solidify its control of Baghdad. It will then try to ensure the survival of the government of Bashar Assad in Syria. More broadly, it will continue to weaken the Sunni Arab states, particularly its regional rival Saudi Arabia, that are aligned against it. The battle lines of the coming conflict are already taking shape. The Saudi-led coalition against Qatar is as much about countering Iran as it is about defeating jihadism. And so it is in Iraq, Syria and the Gulf that the United States and Iran, having only recently eased tensions, will eventually collide.

In the next three to five years, Iranian influence will peak at the perfect time for Iran. The Arab world is in chaos. Turkey is not yet as strong as it promises to be. And various Kurdish groups are beginning to coalesce into statelets. These conditions are a golden opportunity for Iran, which will try to maximize its power, largely through its proxy groups, without jeopardizing the economic progress it has made since 2015. The country won’t be a regional hegemon in the long term, but it is ideally suited to capitalize on regional instability in the next few years.

For this reason, Iran will study how the United States deals with North Korea. Tehran didn’t sign the nuclear agreement to forfeit its nuclear program indefinitely; it needs the program as a long-term deterrent against the United States, a threat it considers existential. (Placing mines in the Strait of Hormuz, through which so much oil passes, is another option.) And in any case, the agreement doesn’t actually dismantle the program. It simply halts uranium enrichment.

North Korea’s acquisition of ICBMs is a clear but tacit red line for the United States. If Washington bluffs, Tehran will be more emboldened to proceed with missile tests than it already is. If the U.S. attacks North Korea, Tehran may feel even more compelled to develop a deterrent and, therefore, feel more emboldened to proceed with its missile tests. Of course, Kim Jong Un could capitulate without a shot being fired, but it’s hard to imagine Iran doing the same. The legitimacy of the Islamic Republic is built in part on resisting the United States and making sure Iran never suffers the humiliation of 1953 again.

Conclusion

The fates of Iran and North Korea have been intertwined since 1953. The circumstances of their early development dictated that they cooperate, at least to some degree, as they built deterrents against their enemies. Their partnership may be coming to an end, incompatible as their strategic needs now are, but their fates are still linked. From Washington’s perspective, the “axis of evil” is now an axis of two, one of which is squarely in the crosshairs of the U.S. military. Iran wants to know how this situation will end because it understands that the nuclear agreement only delayed the inevitable reckoning with the United States.

China Allows Korea-Iranian Nukes

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China says it is not responsible for North Korea nuclear crisis | World news

Benjamin Haas

China has rejected Donald Trump’s repeated calls for it to do more to rein in North Korea’s nuclear programme, saying the “China responsibility theory” must stop.

Trump’s frustration with China has grown since Pyongyang launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that some experts say could reach Alaska or other parts of the US west coast. Prior to the missile launch, the US had already imposed sanctions against two Chinese citizens and a shipping company with ties to Pyongyang, and moved to blacklist a small Chinese bank headquartered in a town on the border with North Korea.

But China said on Tuesday that it was not the key to calming tensions on the Korean peninsula.

“Recently, certain people, talking about the Korean peninsula nuclear issue, have been exaggerating and giving prominence to the so-called ‘China responsibility theory,’” said Geng Shuang, a foreign ministry spokesman, without naming a specific person or country. “I think this either shows lack of a full, correct knowledge of the issue, or there are ulterior motives for it, trying to shift responsibility.”

China is North Korea’s main diplomatic ally and its largest trading partner, and the Chinese leaders have gone to great lengths to ensure Kim Jong-un’s regime does not collapse.

They worry the fall of the regime would lead to chaos, with thousands of refugees pouring over the border. Officials are also wary of a unified Korea backed by the US, and of sharing a border with a country where about 30,000 US troops are stationed.

All parties must meet each other halfway and China had made significant efforts and played a constructive role, Geng added. He described US sanctions against Chinese companies as adding oil to a fire at the same time as China was trying to extinguish the flames. The US also infuriated Chinese officials by announcing $1.42bn worth of arms sales to Taiwan, a self-ruled island which China regards as part of its territory.

“Asking others to do work, but doing nothing themselves is not OK,” Geng said. “Being stabbed in the back is really not OK.”

China in part blames the US and South Korea for heightened tensions on the peninsula, citing frequent military exercises and a recently deployed anti-missile system.

Before a meeting with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, at the G20 in Hamburg, Trump cited strong trade figures between China and North Korea, saying: “So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!”

Imports of Chinese goods into North Korea have remained strong in the months since China stopped buying coal from the isolated country.

Trump struck a more conciliatory tone at the meeting, saying he was confident the North Korean nuclear issue would eventually be resolved, but it may take more time.

The Collusion of the Korea and Iranian Horns

North Korea and Iran Are Working Together on Nuclear Weapons Technology

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By INU Staff

INU – North Korea and Iran are working together on nuclear weapons technology and could have a strong nuclear arsenal by as soon as 2020, so what can we do about it?

Dr. Jonathan Adelman, a professor at the Josef Korbel School at the University of Denver, wrote an op-ed for the Huffington Post in which he advised that allowing these two oppressive regimes to continue with their nuclear weapons programme posed possibly the greatest threat to global peace since the Second World War.

He wrote: “The road to peace is unclear. A strong nuclear arsenal in North Korea and Iran by 2020 or 2025 could threaten the very existence of American allies in the Middle East and East Asia and even threaten part of the United States itself.”

Currently, the Iranian Regime has been able to replicate the BM-25 Musudan class intercontinental ballistic missiles that have a 2,500 miles radius and are capable of hitting Hawaii.

Adelman does not advise pursuing another nuclear deal, like Clinton’s with North Korea or Obama’s with Iran; assessing that this could be “ fatal to the ultimate cause of peace”.

He wrote: “The only thing worse would be to allow these anti-democratic harsh and hostile regimes to grow their nuclear arsenals to the point that they could dominate these vital areas. Only one thing is clear: the threats to peace in key areas of the world are worse than any time since 1991 and even possibly 1945.”

The relationship between Iran, who is still under the 2015 nuclear deal, which is supposed to prevent them from creating nuclear weapons, and North Korea, means that the Iranian Regime could implement North Korean nuclear technology onto their ballistic missiles as soon as the nuclear deal runs out.

Luckily, there are many states within the Middle East who are also worried about this including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and especially Israel.

Israel has, in conjunction with the United States, created the most modern anti-ballistic missile missiles which are designed to counter ballistic missiles and send them off-target.

Adelman reminds us that both countries were part of George W Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil’, which also included Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the name denoting “rogue pariah states”.

He wrote: “The two countries share a number of common factors: disdain for international law, insecure neighbours, weak economic development, common enemies, dislike for Western powers and ideologies (democracy, rule of law, popular election), a willingness to destroy other countries and stress on development of nuclear weapons.”

The Iranian Nuclear Horn Via Korea (Daniel 8:4)

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NORTH KOREA AND IRAN: COMRADES IN ARMS?

Professor Jonathan Adelman

Over two dozen countries have aspired to become nuclear powers in the post-1945 era but the majority have not succeeded. Former Soviet republics such as Ukraine and Belarus already had thousands of nuclear weapons from the Soviet era but seeking to integrate into Europe, lacking the money or technical expertise to maintain these expensive weapons, and not possessing a strong state identity, these new states forfeited their nuclear weapons in favor of becoming players in the post-Soviet era.

Taiwan and Japan, dependent on American and Western support against a far bigger China, essentially yielded to pressure from its allies. Egypt, Syria and Algeria all went part of the way down the road before succumbing to the huge costs and lack of technical capabilities so necessary for a nuclear power. Iraq’s capabilities, developed under Saddam Hussein, were stopped by an Israeli attack on the nuclear facilities in 1981 and the Second Persian Gulf War in 2003. Libya’s nuclear program under Muammar Qaddafi was stopped by his fear of the American triumph in 2003. South Africa, having created several atomic bombs under its white-dominated regime, yielded to the rise of a black majority country. Latin American countries, such as Brazil and Argentina, started down the road but eventually abandoned their efforts.

Eight nuclear powers have emerged in the post-war era. Russia, the United States and China emerged as they developed as major powers, while European countries (England and France) and emerging Asian states (India and Pakistan) went nuclear.

In the second decade of the 21st century, North Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran have emerged — one as a nascent nuclear power (North Korea) and the other as an aspiring nuclear power (Iran).

Both were part of the “axis of evil” of three countries (the third was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq) that, in President Bush’s words, meant they were rogue pariah states.The two countries share a number of common factors: disdain for international law, insecure neighbors, weak economic development, common enemies, dislike for Western powers and ideologies (democracy, rule of law, popular election), a willingness to destroy other countries and stress on development of nuclear weapons.

Each state also has serious enemies inside and outside their region. Both North Korea and Iran saw significant threats to their existence, led by the United States, their superpower enemy. Each faces regional enemies as well. North Korea faces a far richer South Korea and Japan (but without nuclear weapons) as well as an ambivalent Chinese policy. Too, Iran desperately needs North Korean nuclear and technical capability to be a serious player and threat in the region.

As for Iran, it faces a militarily strong Israel with 100 nuclear weapons, a more modern military and more sophisticated air force with 700 planes. Israel also has the most modern anti-ballistic missile missiles developed with the United States: Iron Dome , David’s Sling and Arrow 3. In addition, the Sunni world — Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates — while traditionally anti-Israel, has now embraced Israel in the spirit of the Indian view from 2,400 years ago: “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” They now see Iran as the Shiite menace to their Sunni power.

Today the Iranians have, with North Korea’s help, duplicated the miniature submarines Yono-class and the BM-25 Musudan class ICBMs that are capable of travelling 2,500 miles and could hit Hawaii. The relationship between North Korea and Iran has become so tight that nuclear weapons and missiles in North Korea would rapidly be duplicated in Iran.

All this leaves the United States and its allies in a difficult position. The road to peace is unclear. A strong nuclear arsenal in North Korea and Iran by 2020 or 2025 could threaten the very existence of American allies in the Middle East and East Asia and even threaten part of the United States itself. Another agreement with North Korea like that reached under President Clinton or the nuclear deal reached with Iran under President Obama could be fatal to the ultimate cause of peace.

What to do? The only thing worse would be to allow these anti-democratic harsh and hostile regimes to grow their nuclear arsenals to the point that they could dominate these vital areas. Only one thing is clear: the threats to peace in key areas of the world are worse than any time since 1991 and even possibly 1945.

Korea and Iran’s Joint Nuclear Program

Iranian opposition group says North Korea helps Iran grow ballistic missile program.

Iran hosts long term living quarters for North Korean missile engineers and likewise, North Korea does the same with Iranian nuclear scientists.

There are 42 above and below ground locations in Iran.

Under the terms of the nuclear deal with Iran, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), key restrictions would expire if  the IAEA formally reaches a “broader conclusion” that Tehran’s nuclear program is entirely peaceful. Such a conclusion would result in the lifting of the UN’s remaining non-nuclear sanctions, including the ban on ballistic missile testing and the conventional arms embargo.  Furthermore, the U.S. and EU would delist additional entities from their sanctions lists.  Notably, the EU would delist all entities affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the organization responsible for both terrorist activities abroad as well as key aspects of the nuclear program.

Spurring the IAEA to reach a broader conclusion as quickly as possible appears to be Iran’s goal. In a televised speech in the middle of May, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani expressed his intention to engage in “lifting all the non-nuclear sanctions during the coming four years” – at least two years earlier than the JCPOA would otherwise allow.  Unless additional steps are taken to redress the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) closing of Iran’s possible military dimension (PMD) file in December 2015,  it is technically possible for the IAEA to reach a broader conclusion within four years.

What is Required for the IAEA to Reach a Broader Conclusion?

To reach a broader conclusion, the IAEA needs to be able to conclude – based on extensive verification and analysis of all information available to it – that all nuclear material has remained in peaceful activities, which means that there are no indications of diversion of nuclear material from peaceful activities and no indications of undeclared nuclear material or activities in Iran as a whole.

Despite the IAEA’s previous conclusion that Iran had, in fact, carried out a wide range of activities ‘relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device,’ the IAEA Board of Governors reached a political decision in December 2015 to “close” the investigation into the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program, a decision necessary to ensure the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This decision has amplified the IAEA’s shortcoming in its ability to form a composite picture of, and thereby fully monitor, proscribed nuclear weapons development activities in Iran.  Such monitoring and verification is essential to determine the nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

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*** Further, is Saudi Arabia, Israel, the United States or other countries prepared? Was this a threat?

NCRI – Cleric Alamal-Hoda, Khamenei’s representative and Friday prayer leader in Northeastern city of Mashhad, while confessing to low participation of people in Qods Day march, threatened to launch rocket attack into Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He said: “Those who did not really participate in the ceremony without excuse, they are those, who were not present at the battlefield against infidels”.

This Mullah added: “Today, after 38 years, our ballistic missile are shaking the world and makes the world upside down.” We have reached to such power. This precise pointing of missile deployment to Deiralzor is not much more difficult, than, the pointing of the Saudi Arabian palace in Riyadh, that is, if the missile flowing from the Gulf to the heart of Al-Saud’s palace, it will have the same targeting spot, and will remove this unclean descent spot,  Al-Ain from the page of Islam”.

Khamenei’s representative in Mashhad called on rival factions in the government and parliament to stop compromising with the enemy and accept the failure of JCPOA. At the same time, he argued that JCPOA pursuit was under Khamenei’s control. Almal-Hoda stated: Our policy makers in the executive branch, in the legislature and the parliament are not so eager to compromise with the enemy. You wanted it, your policy was implemented, you saw it failed. We brought the core of nuclear activities to brink of none, as sanctions were not lifted (Astan Qods Razavi TV, March 24, 2017).