North Korea’s nuclear test on February 12 was bought and paid for by Iran, according to claims published yesterday by the U.S. based World Tribune. Based on data provided by Global Information System/Defense & Foreign Affairs, the report states outright that Iran provided scientists and equipment, as well as money, to the North Koreans.
The new test isn’t just another step forward for the problematical weapons program. Says the World Tribune: “It was in fact a demonstration of a common North Korean and Iranian operationally-ready nuclear weapon.”
The impoverished Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has become an international pariah, thanks to its saber-rattling and its defiance of international agreements concerning the proliferation of nuclear weapons. According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, their interest in developing these weapons goes all the way back to the end of World War II. In 2003, they withdrew from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and they have refused to sign onto the other international agreements aimed at slowing the development of weapons of mass destruction.
Because North Korea hasn’t signed the agreements, it appears to be the perfect place for rogue nations to test weapons that would otherwise be illegal. It seems plausible to speculate that a relatively wealthy Middle Eastern nation like Iran would choose North Korea for some of the tests of its controversial nuclear program, and the rumors have swirled about the link between the two nations for years.
North Korea has also developed a reputation for heavy-handed saber-rattling that has allowed some observers to wonder if they’re bluffing. Geoff Brumfiel gave a detailed explanation in Nature, a leading science publication, about how seismic data was used by South Korea and other nations to confirm the underground test. Thus far, the tests suggest that a nuclear explosion did occur, with a strength at least double that of the previous test in May, 2009.
But GIS goes further when they claim that Iranians were present at the test and that there was an additional satellite link to Iran near the test site’s entrance. If true, their evidence will confirm an Iranian defector’s claims that North Korea and Iran are working together to develop the weapons. Mohammad Reza Heydari was quoted in 2010 by Jamey Keaten in The Christian Science Monitor as saying, “I witnessed repeated roundtrips of North Korean specialists and technicians who came to collaborate on the Iranian nuclear program.”
North Korean officials are famous for blasting threats, like most undiplomatic diplomat Jon Yong Ryong who said last week that the DPRK is prepared for “the final destruction” of rival South Korea.
It will be a sticky situation for President Obama if the evidence for Iranian involvement in the North Korean nuclear tests does stand up. The World Tribune report ends with a warning that North Korea probably has another test planned.