Iran’s recent failed ballistic missile launch from a submerged “midget” submarine has once again bought up the specter of Iran’s military ties with North Korea.
The two rogue regimes are so joined at the hip, their relationship would require a marriage license to be this close.
To say the mullahs in Tehran share a lot of the same values with Kim Jong-un would be an understatement of historic proportions. Both regimes have engaged in overseas assassinations and terrorist operations, especially killing dissidents and political opponents—and in the case of Kim, even family members.
Both have invested heavily in developing illicit nuclear programs, including extensive development of ballistic missile designs. The level of cooperation and sharing is akin to Intel designing microprocessors for Dell computers.
In the latest incident, the launch of what is being portrayed as Iran’s first with the Jask-2 underwater cruise missile, uses a missile design intelligence experts believe to be a copy of previous missiles tested in North Korea.
This revelation would hardly be a surprise, as the Ghadir class electric submarine used as a platform to launch the cruise missile is also a direct copy of the North Korean Yono class sub.
Both Iran and North Korea were part of the notorious A.Q. Kahn nuclear proliferation network, and bilateral trade in oil and weapons has continued despite UN resolutions designed to stop it. Ballistic missile cooperation is documented, and nuclear cooperation has been an unspoken theme in Washington.
According to Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, the evidence of collaboration between North Korea and Iran is ample and of long standing.
“The very first missiles we saw in Iran were simply copies of North Korean missiles,” he told Fox News “Over the years, we’ve seen photographs of North Korean and Iranian officials in each other’s countries, and we’ve seen all kinds of common hardware.”
With decades of previous cooperation between the two countries raises the concern that Iran —after its economic windfall from the nuclear agreement, including the $1.7 billion in cash it received from the U.S. for the swap of hostages. — could offer financial assistance to the cash-strapped hermit kingdom in exchange for missile technology.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of collusion between these two rouge nations the Iran lobby and its appeasers still make the false claim of moderation while Iran continues its aggressive behavior in the Persian Gulf and its meddling in the Middle East, as well as its continued efforts to develop missiles.
And North Korea has solidified its nuclear forces and is working on designing solid-fuel missiles that are much more easily concealed and dangerous than its current, liquid-fueled missile arsenal, as well as nuclear warheads that are small enough for missile delivery.
It is ironic that while Iran and North Korea share so much, they also share in the lack of condemnation or criticism from the Iran lobby. Supporters such as the National Iranian American Council can’t even be bothered to issue a press release condemning North Korea’s underground nuclear tests.
If the evidence cited in the Fox News report is true, then the Trump administration will have to face the need to deal with two problems at once: North Korea’s active development of nuclear weapons and missiles and Iran’s use of North Korean technology to improve its own military might.
Therein lies the danger of one rogue nuclear armed state that has already been threatening nuclear war is now working with an aspirant nuclear armed state that is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. The risk to U.S. and international security is greatly at risk unless steps can be taken to stop the collaboration in its tracks.
But the solution for both regimes long term lies in prying open the opportunity for domestic political reforms and enabling dissident groups to finally come in from exile. In the case of North Korea that means gaining support from China and for Iran it means empowering Iranian dissident groups to participate in Iranian society openly and freely again.