Wednesday, April 22, 2009

If Iran Tests a Nuke, North Korea Will Help

When and if Iran crosses the nuclear Rubicon, intelligence experts say, it will be with the assistance of North Korea.

As China Confidential has reported, an Iranian delegation was present for North Korea's first nuclear bomb test, in October 2006, and Iranians are also likely to be invited to Pyongyang's next nuclear test, which could come as early as this July.

Iranian experts have also participated in North Korean missile tests, including the Taepodong-2 tests of July 2006 and April 5 of this year; and North Korea has helped Iran to test-fire missiles from cargo ships--a deadly threat to coastal cities against which there is no known defense.

Mutual Interests

Both countries benefit politically from their respective nuclear programs. The challenges to the status quo divide the international community and put the United States on the defensive.

North Korea's nuclear test ended two decades of debate over its intentions--whether the Stalinist/Kimist state aimed to manufacture weapons or stop short of actual production and be satisfied with possessing a so-called virtual deterrent.

A similar debate is taking place with regard to Iran. China Confidential analysts believe that just as diplomacy failed to prevent or freeze North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, it will fail to stop Iran from developing its weapons of mass destruction. The Obama administration talks about "tough" direct diplomacy with the Islamist nation and "tough" sanctions. In reality, the United States has limited leverage over Iran as long as (a) it is supported by China and Russia, and (b) oil prices remain high. The latter factor is critically important; Iran's oil revenues finance the country's military programs and foreign policy adventures, including sponsorship of Hezbollah and Hamas.