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|Yochanan Visser||March 9th 2017|
Iran is using its strategic relationship with North Korea to advance its nuclear weapon program, two Israeli experts of the Begin Sadat Center revealed in a study published Tuesday. Lt. Col. (ret.) Dr. Refael Ofek and Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Dany Shoham say that Iran is circumventing the restrictions on its nuclear program under the nuclear agreement with the P5+1 countries by collaborating with North Korea on missile development and modifying missiles for nuclear weapons. They also work together on programs meant to upgrade gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment, the Israeli experts claim.
“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,” the two Israeli experts wrote. The pair also noted the two countries have developed almost identical ballistic missiles which can carry nuclear warheads.
“Iran’s Shahab-3 missile is a variant of North Korea’s Nodong-1. The warhead on the Shahab-3 was redesigned to carry a nuclear warhead in the mid-2000s by Kamran Daneshjoo, a top Iranian scientist,” Ofek and Shoham wrote.
The Iranian nuclear expert succeeded to “miniaturize a nuclear warhead to match the weight and dimensional specifications of the Shahab-3,” The Tower reported Thursday. Thereafter, Iran carried out “benchmark tests in Parchin,” the secret military site 19 miles southeast of Tehran. This site where Iran is suspected to have carried out work on detonators for nuclear warheads was first inspected by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2015.
North Korea and Iran have a long history of nuclear cooperation and signed an agreement on the intensification of their collaboration in the field of “science and technology” in 2012.
While the agreement was ostensibly about civil cooperation, the deal was “probably intended to mask an evolving Iranian-NK cryptic interface,” Ofek and Shoham wrote.
They pointed to the fact that Akhbar Salehi, the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, was present when the agreement was signed in Pyongyang.
Hundreds of Iranian scientists visited North Korea to participate in nuclear-related tests or tests with ballistic missiles while North Korean nuclear experts worked in Iran on ballistic missile-related work and assisted the Iranians with developing their nuclear program, according to Ofek and Shoham.
Since 2012, the Iranians have a permanent mission of nuclear experts operating in North Korea which participated in the successful test with a nuclear capable long-range ballistic missile later that year.
The Iranian-North Korean cooperation in the Asian country resulted in “the upgrade of the Shehab-3/Nodong-1 liquid-fueled motor missiles in a quite similar (though not identical) fashion,” according to Ofek and Shoham.
They wrote that North Korea supplied components of the liquid-fueled motor missile Musudan, which is called BM-25. This missile has a range of 2,500-4,000 km and after successful tests in North Korea in 2016, has been delivered to Iran.
The collaboration between the two countries produced almost identical test sites for ballistic missiles the two Israeli experts wrote.
For example, the Guemchang-ri missile test site in North Korea closely resembles the Iranian ballistic test site Tabriz, Ofek and Shoham noted.
The Israeli experts claim that Iran and North Korea have been working on nuclear warheads since 2015.
In 2015, four delegations from North Korea visited Iran to discuss the cooperation on the development of nuclear warheads, according to the Begin-Sadat experts.
They blamed the Obama Administration for the lack of action against the disastrous cooperation between the two rogue states.
Loopholes in the nuclear agreement negotiated with Iran in 2016 left the North Korean Iranian cooperation in tact and delivered the funds Iran needed to finance the joint projects with the Asian nuclear power.
“The funds released under the agreement will substantially facilitate the advancement of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs of both Iran and (North Korea),” Ofek and Shoham concluded