An interesting and useful analysis, but it does not mention the alliance between Iran and North Korea, which have been cooperating on nuclear and missile technology for years. It appears that North Korea, which has tested three nuclear devices and successfully launched a satellite, is likely to do more of both this year. That suggests that North Korea may be more advanced than Iran.something that could be used as part of barter transactions that might allow Iran to circumvent increasingly tight financial sanctions.
There are also plans to impose more stringent sanctions on North Korea further limiting its access to gold and diamonds.
With that package, the Iran – North Korea nuclear and missile partnership seems likely to flourish to an even greater extent than presently. Iran should be able to limit its own uranium enrichment and pay North Korea to do all or most of that work. Should that happen, Iran should have little difficult beyond transport in securing greater quantities of more highly enriched uranium than it can now provide itself.
With Iranian payments for enrichment, North Korea should be able to buy more of the stuff it needs further to improve its own rocketry and nuclear technology. As I noted at the link,
With increased access to gold and other precious metals Iran could, in addition to continuing to share nuclear weapon and missile technology, reduce or even cease Uranium enrichment and instead buy enriched Uranium from its partners in North Korea — made even more hungry for gold and other money substitutes by EU sanctions. With such money substitutes otherwise put in shorter supply, and with Iran getting an abundance, North Korea might well be happy to give Iran a really good deal.
To the extent that North Korea is dependent on China, that dependence might well be reduced further – thereby further reducing whatever already diminished moderating influence China still has on North Korea.
The official Chinese reaction to North Korea’s latest provocation was stern: China is “strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed” to the test, and it is calling for the resumption of international talks. But China’s stance lacks meaningful bite, because its leaders fail to recognise that they no longer need to succumb to their unruly neighbour’s blackmail.
In carrying out the test, the North Koreans once again compromise China’s national interests. The international community is again firmly focused on China’s relationship with its rogue ally, and expects that, as an emerging superpower seeking to reassure the world of its peaceful rise, China will play a constructive role. However limited China’s influence may be, the North Korean regime can sustain itself only with Chinese backing.
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