Global Affairs

Iran’s Alliance with North Korea Could Pave Tehran’s Path to a Nuclear Bomb

Despite the new agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran, the Islamic Republic could still acquire nuclear weapons capability through North Korea, according to analysts. Ilan Berman, Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council, warned yesterday, in an article published in the National Interest, that despite the administration’s assurances that all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear bomb have been shut off under the agreement, “[a] covert path to the bomb, entailing the procurement of materiel from foreign suppliers, still remains open to Iran, if it chooses to take that route.”

Therefore, the “unprecedented verification” that the Obama administration cited as a key pillar of the final deal could be rendered ineffective. Gordon Chang, writing in The Daily Beast in March, argued, “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.”

Berman argued that for decades Iran and North Korea have forged a “formidable alliance – the centerpiece of which is cooperation on nuclear and ballistic-missile capabilities.” He explained that for years reports have indicated that North Korea has actively worked to aid Iran’s nuclear program. North Korea sent “hundreds of nuclear experts” to work in Iran, while making “key nuclear software” available to Iranian scientists. North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests. At its third in February 2013, Iranian scientists were present.

Moreover, in his testimony (.pdf) before Congress last month, Larry Niksch, Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote that several news outlets gained access to intelligence reports revealing Iranian-North Korean cooperation on nuclear technology whereby North Korean experts train and instruct Iranian scientists. He further noted that in 2011, North Korean scientists reportedly trained Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members and other officials on a certain computer program, which, “According to the German newspaper, Suddeutsche Zeitung,’western secret services sources’ described … as ‘vital’ for the development of nuclear warheads.”

[Photo: ABC News / YouTube ]