North Korea has ample nukes and wants money. Iran wants (and may already have) nukes, has money and will have more as sanctions are ended. The two rogue nations have long had a symbiotic relationship and it has not diminished. Yet “our” P5+1 negotiators, under the leadership of Obama’s minions, ignore that inconvenient problem as well as Iran’s missile development, “possible” nuclear weaponization and increasing regional hegemony.
I wrote about the Iran – North Korea connection back in 2013 in articles titled China, Iran and North Korea — a radioactive stew, Iran, North Korea and Nuke Negotiations and elsewhere. As I noted in the radioactive stew article,
The main thing that puzzles me is why we continue to focus on Iran’s uranium enrichment. Is Iran (again) playing us for suckers? North Korea is fully capable of enriching uranium for Iran (or for anyone else) and would doubtless be happy to enrich as much as may be desired in exchange for the hard currency freely available to Iran if it were only to cease its own enrichment. North Korea needs the money and is not likely very particular about its sources. Just as our sanctions have not impacted Iran’s enrichment capabilities significantly, neither have they impacted those of North Korea. Perhaps we may awaken before it’s too late and notice Iran playing its Korean hole card in our high-stakes poker game.
We have not awakened and the problem has worsened since 2013.
In 2014, I summarized several earlier articles in one titled The Iran scam continues. There, I pointed out that the English language version of the interim P5+1 deal and the White House summary generally ignore “undisclosed” — but known — Iranian sites for missile and warhead development and the work done there– despite warnings from the International Atomic Energy Agency. I also noted the Iran – North Korea nexus. Again, the situation has become worse since then. As the magic date of March 31, 2015 arrives, Iran is still demanding – and likely will get — more and more concessions.
“The Iranians are again outplaying the Americans,” said one source in Europe familiar with the negotiations. “They know they’ll have to give up certain things eventually. So they’re digging in their heels on issues that mean everything and preparing to give ground on relatively minor issues—but not yet, and not until they see how much more the Americans are willing to give.” [Emphasis added.]
. . . .
“Iran has successfully dragged the administration toward their positions to attain massive concessions, and, sensing that kind of weakness, they are seeking to press their advantage to gain further ground on critical points,” according to the source, who added that on the sanctions relief front, Iran is seeking a rollback “without dismantling anything.” [Emphasis added.]
What might Iran be willing to give up in order to get additional important concessions? How about stuff that North Korea will be pleased to do in exchange for a share of the extra funds Iran will have as sanctions are eliminated?
Occasionally but not often, news media raise the Iran – North Korea connection. For example, a March 29th article at the Washington Post by Ali Alfoneh and Reuel Marc Gerecht is titled What else is Iran hiding? Another article at the Daily Beast by Gordon G. Chang is titled Does Iran Have Secret Nukes in North Korea?
As noted in the Washington Post article,
The unfinished North Korean-designed reactor that was destroyed by Israeli planes on Sept. 6, 2007, at Deir al-Zour in Syria was in all likelihood an Iranian project, perhaps one meant to serve as a backup site for Iran’s own nuclear plants. We draw this conclusion because of the timing and the close connection between the two regimes: Deir al-Zour was started around the time Iran’s nuclear facilities were disclosed by an Iranian opposition group in 2002, and the relationship between Shiite-ruled Syria and Shiite Iran has been exceptionally tight since Bashar al-Assad came to power in 2000. We also know — because Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former Iranian president and majordomo of the political clergy, proudly tells us in his multivolume autobiography — that sensitive Iranian-North Korean military cooperation began in 1989. Rafsanjani’s commentary leaves little doubt that the Iranian-North Korean nexus revolved around two items: ballistic missiles and nuclear-weapons technology. [Emphasis added.]
. . . .
The Iranian-North Korean contacts intensify in 1992, the year that Rafsanjani, with Rouhani at his side, launches a policy of commercial engagement with the Europeans. On Jan. 30, Rafsanjani receives intelligence minister Ali Fallahian and Mostafa Pourmohammadi, the ministry’s director of foreign espionage, to discuss “procurement channels for sensitive commodities.” On Feb. 8, Rafsanjani writes, “The North Koreans want oil, but have nothing to give in return but the special commodity. We, too, are inclined to solve their problem.” Rafsanjani orders defense minister Akbar Torkan to organize a task force to analyze the risks and benefits of receiving the “special commodity.” This task force recommends that the president accept the “risk of procuring the commodities in question.” Rafsanjani adds that “I discussed [this] with the Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] in more general terms and it was decided to take action based on the [task force’s] review.” [Emphasis added.]
It’s most unlikely that the “special commodity” and the technical know-how surrounding it have anything to do with ballistic missiles; Rafsanjani expresses anxiety that the “special commodity” could be intercepted by the United States, but doesn’t share this worry about missile procurement. In a March 9, 1992, journal entry, the cleric gloats about the U.S. Navy having tracked a North Korean ship bound for Syria but not two ships destined for Iran. Two days later, when the “special commodity” is unloaded, he writes: “The Americans were really embarrassed.” [Emphasis added.]
. . . .
Odds are good that North Korea helped to jump-start Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. If so, how long did this nefarious partnership continue?
Rouhani was Rafsanjani’s alter ego. He’s undoubtedly the right man to answer all of the PMD questions that the IAEA keeps asking and the Obama administration keeps avoiding. [Emphasis added.]
As noted at the Daily Beast article,
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. Ahmed Vahidi, Tehran’s minister of defense at the time, denied sending people to the North, but the unconfirmed dispatches make sense in light of the two states announcing a technical cooperation pact the preceding month.
. . . .
[N]o inspections of Iranian sites will solve a fundamental issue: As can be seen from the North Korean base housing Tehran’s weapons specialists, Iran is only one part of a nuclear weapons effort spanning the Asian continent. North Korea, now the world’s proliferation superstar, is a participant. China, once the mastermind, may still be a co-conspirator. Inspections inside the borders of Iran, therefore, will not give the international community the assurance it needs.
The cross-border nuclear trade is substantial enough to be called a “program.” Larry Niksch of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., estimates that the North’s proceeds from this trade with Iran are “between $1.5 billion and $2.0 billion annually.” A portion of this amount is related to missiles and miscellaneous items, the rest derived from building Tehran’s nuclear capabilities. [Emphasis added.]
Iran has bought a lot with its money. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, thought to be Tehran’s chief nuclear scientist, was almost certainly in North Korea at Punggye-ri in February 2013 to witness Pyongyang’s third atomic test. Reports put Iranian technicians on hand at the site for the first two detonations as well.
The North Koreans have also sold Iran material for bomb cores, perhaps even weapons-grade uranium. The Telegraph reported that in 2002 a barrel of North Korean uranium cracked open and contaminated the tarmac of the new Tehran airport.
. . . .
Even if Iran today were to agree to adhere to the Additional Protocol, it could still continue developing its bomb in North Korea, conducting research there or buying North Korean technology and plans. And as North Korean centrifuges spin in both known and hidden locations, the Kim regime will have a bigger stock of uranium to sell to the Iranians for their warheads. With the removal of sanctions, as the P5+1 is contemplating, Iran will have the cash to accelerate the building of its nuclear arsenal.
So while the international community inspects Iranian facilities pursuant to a framework deal, the Iranians could be busy assembling the components for a bomb elsewhere. In other words, they will be one day away from a bomb—the flight time from Pyongyang to Tehran—not one year as American and other policymakers hope. [Emphasis added.]
Why does the Obama administration persistently avoid raising the Iran – North Korea nexus? Perhaps doing so would scuttle the “negotiations” and thereby Obama’s dreams about His legacy. Perhaps Obama is keen for Iran to have, and be in a position to use, nukes to enhance its hegemony over the Middle East and to displace Israel as well as regional Arab allies in the Gulf states. Since Israel is unwilling to commit suicide in present circumstances by agreeing to a two state solution with Palestinians — intent upon and capable of causing her destruction — that may well be His only way to bring to fruition His desire for Middle east “peace” through submission and “social justice.”
The Iran – North Korea nexus, regardless of its importance, was not considered (or was considered but deemed too intractable to approach) when the framework for the P5+1 negotiations was decided and it will not be considered now. That’s bad and dangerous. If a deal with Iran evolves from the current mess, Obama will gloat about His legacy and the Mad Mullahs will gloat about having put one over on the weak and declining free world. That’s frustrating but otherwise of little consequence.
Because of the Iran – North Korea nexus, Iran would need little time to repair any damage Israel and/or her Arab allies might do to Iran’s existing or future nuclear infrastructure. What can and should be done? I wish I knew. Perhaps Iran’s borders could be sealed adequately to keep North Korean stuff out, but that would require an expensive long term commitment. Perhaps others will think of something better. I hope so.