Daily TIP

Did North Korea sell nukes to Iran?

Posted by Tip Staff - March 10, 2017
Bad guys stick together. North Korea attempted last year to sell a metal used in nuclear weapons development to an unidentified buyer on the international market, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The news comes amid growing signs that the Hermit Kingdom is collaborating with Iran in illicit nuclear and ballistic missile research.

According to United Nations investigators, North Korea tried to sell a form of lithium metal that can be used in miniaturizing nuclear warheads to unidentified buyers.

The attempted sale has “sparked new concern in the Trump administration, Congress and the U.N. about the proliferation threat posed by Pyongyang’s growing nuclear- and ballistic-missile programs,” the Journal reported. American, Israeli, and Arab officials told the Journal that in the past, North Korea has sold missile technology Iran, Syria, Egypt, and Yemen.

More evidence of cooperation between North Korea and Iran in the realms of nuclear and ballistic missile development has emerged in recent months. Satellite pictures published late last year showed that North Korea had built a ballistic missile silo similar to one that exists in Tabriz, Iran. The similarity between the two sites suggests that the nations were collaborating on ballistic missile development and nuclear weapons research, according to Strategic Sentinel, the firm that published the pictures.

In mid-December, investigative journalist Claudia Rosett reported that Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) asked then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper what the United States intelligence community knows about Iranian nuclear cooperation with North Korea.

Rosett pointed out that it was unusual for Iran to be devoting resources to developing ballistic missiles, which are “cost-efficient only as vehicles for delivering nuclear warheads,” if it had sworn off the development of nuclear weapons, per the 2015 nuclear deal. She suggested that “North Korea’s nuclear program might be secretly doubling as a nuclear backshop for Iran.”

Israeli Lt. Col. (ret.) Dr. Refael Ofek and Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Dany Shoham wrote in February that North Korea is likely “ready and able to furnish a route by which Iran can clandestinely circumvent” the nuclear deal.”

Ofek and Shoham noted that one of the technical cooperation agreements signed between the two nations fell under the purview of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, and that an Iranian delegation reportedly attended a North Korean nuclear test in 2013.

Paging Moscow. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “internalized” his warning that Iran must not be allowed to fill any vacuum left by the Islamic State in Syria.“

One of the things that we are fighting against together is radical Islamic terrorism,” Netanyahu said before meeting with the Russian leader in Moscow, The Times of Israel reported. “Of course, there was significant progress last year in the fight against the terrorism of radical Sunni Islam led by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and Russia has a very important contribution.”

“It’s obvious that we wouldn’t want this terror to be replaced by radical Islamic Shiite terror led by Iran,” he added. Tehran has been a close ally of Moscow in supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the ongoing Syrian conflict.

Following the meeting, Netanyahu told Israeli reporters that he expressed Israel’s “strong opposition to Iran’s entrenchment Syria,” and that the Russian president had “internalized” his warning.

“Since Russia began intervening in the Syrian war a year ago, Russia became an important actor in Syria itself,” Eyal Zisser, a Middle East expert from Tel Aviv University, told the Times. “But of course this intervention has to do with the strategic interest of Israel. Russia became a neighborhood country, so you need to coordinate, you need to establish open channels of communication in order to ensure that no accidents will occur along the border.”

Zvi Magen, a former Israeli ambassador to Russia, told Haaretz that “Russia won’t give up on Iran as an ally but the Russians know that Israel has its key interests and red-lines in the region and it’s very important for Putin to keep Israel neutral in Syria. He understands he has to make sure Israel’s interests are served, as well.”

To Putin, Netanyahu is also representative of American and Sunni Arab interests, Magen said, which makes it more likely that the Russian president will pay attention to his concerns.

You can say that again. The chief of U.S. Central Command told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday that Iran poses the greatest threat in his area of responsibility. General Joseph L. Votel said, “We are…dealing with a range of malign activities perpetrated by Iran and its proxies operating in the region.” He continued, “It is my view that Iran poses the greatest long-term threat to this part of the world.” Votel told Congress a year ago that Iran had become “more aggressive in the days since the [Iran nuclear] agreement.” The general has also said, “It’s about the Iranian regime and their desire to continue to do these types of things that stoke instability or attempt to stoke instability in the region.”

Since the Iran deal was reached in July 2015, Iran has increased its support for the murderous Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, playing a crucial role in the fall of Aleppo; detained several dual nationals with citizenship in Western countries; boosted its arming of the Houthi rebels in Yemen, whose motto is “God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam”; conducted numerous ballistic missile tests in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which codified the nuclear deal; and had dozens of aggressive run-ins with the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf that have been deemed “unsafe and unprofessional.”

The 2017 spring and summer concert lineup in Israel is already sounding sweet with the likes of Radiohead, Nick Cave, Fatboy Slim, Robbie Williams, Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, Rod Stewart and The Pixies confirming local gigs. DJ Fatboy Slim is bringing his signature rave show to Tel Aviv on March 12, where he’ll perform big hits at Hangar 11 club. Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook, is used to getting huge crowds jumping on their feet and hopes the audience at his debut show in Israel will comply. Justin Bieber is reportedly coming to Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv on May 3. It will be the international pop sensation’s second visit in five years. On May 17, in the same venue, American rockers Aerosmith will walk this way on their farewell tour. Aerosmith played in Yarkon Park in 1994. Duran Duran will bring synth-pop Eighties to Tel Aviv on June 1. The English band is scheduled to perform in the outdoor concert venue in Yarkon Park. British rocker Rod Stewart will croon to fans at the same venue on June 14. This will be his third time performing in Israel. Rock ‘n’ roll’s bad boys Guns N’ Roses are expected to perform a concert in Tel Aviv on July 15. The biggest hype for summer rock concerts (so far) is definitely around Radiohead. The British band posted its July 19 concert date in Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv on its Twitter feed. (via Israel21c)

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