North Korea at nuclear threshold. What about Iran?



In a White Paper published last week, the Japanese Defense Ministry concluded that there is evidence that North Korea had achieved miniaturization of nuclear weapons, meaning that it could build a nuclear warhead small enough to fit onto an intercontinental ballistic missile. “North Korea’s development of ballistic missiles and its nuclear program are becoming increasingly real and presenting imminent problems for the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan, as well as the rest of the world,” said the Japanese report.

The report caused more shock than it should have when it finally reached the world media on Tuesday, Aug. 8, because their US intelligence sources were fully aware of what was going on for some time. They are now reporting that there may be as many as 60 nukes in the North Korean arsenal.

It was time to take seriously Kim Jong-un’s threat Monday of “physical action” in response to the sweeping sanctions the UN Security Council passed in punishment for Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs. President Donald Trump tweeted back: “After many years of failure, countries are coming together to finally address the dangers posed by North Korea. We must be tough and decisive.”

US intelligence also estimates from recent tests that North Korea is likely to be able to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles by next year So America now faces is a ruthless, unpredictable dictator who will soon be capable of launching a nuclear attack on its mainland. This threat confronts President Trump with a scary test..

But while all eyes were fixed on the burly dictator in Pyongyang, hardly anyone noticed that North Korea and Iran this week signed a series of new military accords which are no less dangerous to world peace.

Parliament Speaker Kim Yong Nam, who is rated No. 2 in the Kim regime, ended a 10-day visit to Tehran on Monday, Aug. 7 by inking the new agreements. His official errand in Tehran was to represent Pyongyang at the swearing-in ceremony of President Hassan Rouhani and inaugurate the new North Korean embassy building in the Iranian capital. But he came with a large delegation of North Korean military officers who spent hours in conference with the heads of Iran’s nuclear and missile programs, as well as the leaders of the powerful Revolutionary Guards.

The precise details of Pyongyang’s continued contribution to the upgrade of Iran’s technology in those areas under close wraps. But for Kim, the important thing is Iran’s multibillion dollar investment in the partnership in return for allowing Iranian engineers and scientists to work alongside North Korean experts in the two fields.

The irony is that, while the Security Council unanimously approved tough economic sanctions estimated to cost North Korea an estimated $1bn in state revenue – for which President Trump praised the world powers – Kim has managed to lay his hands on enough cash from Tehran to keep his nuclear and missile programs moving apace. Some of that cash comes from the sanction relief the Americans and Europeans granted Iran for signing its 2015 nuclear deal.

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