N. Korean Nuclear Items Already Integrated in Iran’s Program

Two key items are included in the 13-point UN Security Council resolution the United States proposes to table to punish North Korea for carrying out a nuclear test Monday, Oct. 9. The draft calls for halting trade in material that could be used to make weapons of mass destruction and inspections of cargo going in and out of North Korea. These clauses appear to be motivated by US fears of North Korea passing on its nuclear technology to rogue states or entities.

President George W. Bush‘s first reaction to the North Korean test was a warning to the “world’s biggest proliferators”: “The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States,” he said. “And we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action.”

DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources report that Washington has little to fear on that score. Kim’s plans do not include selling nuclear technology to the “states or non-state entities” to which the US appeared to be referring, certainly not to al Qaeda. Our sources affirm that Osama bin Laden’s purchasing agents would never go near North Korea any more than Pyongyang is likely to approach al Qaeda for a very good reason: China, the only power Kim Jong Il can call friend, would never stand for North Korea having any truck with bin Laden or his organization. Should such contacts be broached, Beijing would ring down the curtain on Kim’s regime in Pyongyang.

North Korea did indeed sell Iran nuclear materials and technology. But that was before 2004. Their contract was filled and the purchases reached Iran’s nuclear labs and installations in mid-2005. Since then, Tehran has made no further requests of Pyongyang; nor have any further deliveries been made.

Iran put a stop to the supply of North Korean nuclear technology for several reasons. One was overcharging. The Iranians are canny bargainers, no less than the North Koreans, and refused to be fleeced. Unpredictability was another difficulty, Iranian sources close to the negotiations with the North Koreans explained to their Western contacts. The Iranians never knew what to expect from Pyongyang – if anything. Furthermore, even the Islamic Republic officials found it hard to live with the North Koreans’ obsessive secretiveness and hide-and-seek maneuvers.


Tehran gave up nuclear shopping Pyongyang two years ago


But the last straw was the Kim government’s insistence on their engineers or technicians being present in every Iranian lab or facility using its nuclear materials or equipment.

The Libyan ruler Muammer Qaddafi was likewise forced to take North Korean experts into his employ as part of the nuclear know-how packages he purchased. However, the innately mistrustful Iranians suspected the North Koreans were plotting to penetrate and steal the secrets of their nuclear program for Kim to sell to Chinese and Russian intelligence at top prices.

For all these reasons, Tehran decided two years ago to restrict its trading ties with the Pyongyang to missiles, preferring to send its purchasing agents to the North Korean capital rather than having them loose in Tehran.

In an article published on September 8, DEBKA-Net-Weekly 269 (A Who’s Who of the Islamic Republic’s Nuclear VIPs) introduced Iran’s top go-between with Pyongyang as Jaafar Mohammadi, Technical Adviser to the Nuclear Energy Agency.

The shadowy wheeler, dealer and intriguer behind the nuclear program, he too is formally in charge of overseas equipment procurement. In practice, he runs the undercover import of illicit equipment often from shady sources. The project leaders and scientists tell him what they need and he gets it for them by hook or by crook, either directly or through the 2,000 agents, most Iranians but also several hundred foreigners, which he runs often in harness with Iranian intelligence. A tireless globetrotter, Mohammadi calls several times a month on his contacts in Beijing, Pyongyang, Moscow and several towns in Germany.

According to the updated information reaching our sources, Mohammadi has been told to keep Iran’s sales in North Korea to missile technology.

His opposite number in Pyongyang, the official in charge of missile and nuclear technology sales to foreign customers, is Kim Yong Nam, Deputy Secretary General of the North Korean Communist party.

On March 10, DEBKA-Net-Weekly 245 uncovered the last Iranian-N.Korean transaction (Tehran Buys More Missiles from North Korea)

The Iranian navy has been further beefed up by the recent purchase of North Korean cruise missiles that can be fitted on the Kilo submarines. They carry warheads of 650 kilo of conventional explosives, but can be adapted to nuclear warheads.

As we write these lines, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources learn that three of Iran’s Kilo submarines are approaching a rendezvous in the Pacific with a North Korean merchant vessel carrying missile experts and technicians from Pyongyang.

And a final word on the efficacy of an arms embargo against North Korea.

Kim’s intelligence services exercise heavy-handed control over many of the crime and smuggling rings operating in the Far East regions of Russia. They work through the large community of ethnic Koreans – 10 or even 12 million – who live on Russia’s Pacific coast. So closely knit is the community that most neither speak nor write the Russian language.

These crime networks are highly sophisticated and reputed to be the most ruthless of their kind in that part of the world. For these smugglers, it would be a walkover to bypass UN Security Council arms embargo measures and move nuclear materials, missiles or any other contraband in or out of North Korea at the behest of its ruler.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email