A submarine used in the failed underwater launch of a cruise missile by Iran this week points to the Islamic Republic’s military cooperation with North Korea, Pentagon officials told Fox News on Friday.
Iran used a “midget” submarine for the underwater launch of a Jask – 2 cruise missile, which U.S. Defense Department officials said is based on the North Korean Yono design. This was seen as further evidence that the two nations are sharing military technology.
A number of Iranian missiles also appear to be based on North Korean designs, including a ballistic missile tested by Iran this January.
A ballistic missile tested by Iran last summer is believed to be based on the design of the North Korean Musudan missile. The Musudan is the most advanced missile that Pyongyang has tested successfully.
Defense experts say that North Korea’s Taepodong missile resembles Iran’s Shahab missile.
“The very first missiles we saw in Iran were simply copies of North Korean missiles,” said Jeffrey Lewis, an expert in missiles at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.
“In the past we would see things in North Korea and they would show up in Iran. In some recent years, we’ve seen some small things appear in Iran first and then show up in North Korea and so that raises the question of whether trade — which started off as North Korea to Iran — has started to reverse,” Lewis added.
He also noted that Iranian and North Korean officials have been seen visiting each other and that a lot of the two nations’ military hardware looks similar.
The Ghadir submarine, which was used in the unsuccessful Iranian missile launch this week, is based on the North Korean Yono-class submarine. Iran and North Korea are the only countries to field this class of submarine.
Moreover, it is believed that this one of the first times that Iran has attempted the underwater launch of a cruise missile. North Korea has successfully carried out such a launch, and American defense officials believe that Iran is close to developing that capability.
A Yono-class submarine sank a South Korean warship in 2010, killing all 40 crew on board. North Korea has denied responsibility for the attack.
According to experts, Yono-class submarines pose a threat because they run on batteries and are difficult to detect in shallow waters.
In December of last year, satellite photographs captured the image of a North Korean underground missile silo that resembled a known silo in Iran. This suggested that the two rogue nations shared the technology. While the photographs were not deemed absolute proof of collaboration between the two nations, they suggested that cooperation is taking place.
In a paper published in late February, Lt. Col. (ret.) Dr. Refael Ofek and Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Dany Shoham wrote that Iran may very well be outsourcing its military nuclear research to North Korea.
Looking at evidence that the two nations shared ballistic missile technology, Ofek and Shoham stated, “this kind of strategic, military-technological collaboration is more than merely plausible. It is entirely possible, indeed likely, that such a collaboration is already underway.”
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