Two Nuclear Rogues Talk Nuclear Business
A large North Korean delegation paid a secret visit to Tehran March 6-20. Disclosing this, DEBKA Weekly’s intelligence sources report exclusively that the visitors spent two weeks negotiating nuclear transactions with senior Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officers, the heads of Iran’s nuclear program, and officials in charge of Iran’s defense spending.
Korea Mining Development Trading acts behind its misnomer as the manager of Pyongyang’s arms deals with foreign governments. It specializes in the marketing of nuclear and ballistic missile technology.
The company was blacklisted by the US and the UN in 2009.
The two sides focused on two topics: how to continue their secret cooperation in nuclear development, and how to smuggle nuclear warheads from North Korea to Iran.
(See our last issue: “Iran’s Secret Bid for 5 North Korean Miniaturized Nuclear Warheads.”)
Also discussed was the possible relocation of certain Iranian nuclear facilities to North Korea, away from international oversight and the risk of penalties.
Tehran was eager for updates and expert guidance on how to avail its nuclear program of Pyongyang’s latest advances in nuclear and missile technology.
US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have been at pains to keep the public in Western countries from finding out that Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered Iran’s secret nuclear development to go full steam ahead at the same time as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was promoting the nuclear negotiations with the world’s top six powers.
To forge ahead, the Iranians need to restart tests on a nuclear warhead detonator. They were discontinued after Tehran was caught at it by the US and Israelis in 2014. (On September 24, 2014 Israel revealed that these banned tests were being covertly conducted at the Parchin military complex.)
Renewing the forbidden detonator tests now at Parchin would put Tehran at risk of sanctions lifted after the nuclear accord being snapped back.
The Iranian-North Korean talks were far from plain sailing.
Iran’s Finance Minister Ali Tayyeb-Niya warned that ready assets for covering its nuclear shopping list from North Korea were in short supply, and offered instead a long-term commitment to cover its oil consumption.
Pyongyang countered that this commitment was already in force for past sales contracts. This time, cash on the nail was demanded – or as near to this as possible: “Iran needs to recognize this need and take a step in North Korea’s direction,” the visitors from Pyongyang stated.
The two sides parted company with no agreement, but a decision to carry on bargaining. Another North Korean delegation would visit Tehran after an evaluation of the negotiations thus far.
Khamenei, his Revolutionary Guards Corps allies and radical clerics meanwhile leaned hard on Rouhani to earmark for “defense” – namely the national nuclear and missile programs – at least half of the funds released by lifted sanctions. The president accordingly promised on March 25 to enlarge the budget allotted to the masters of those programs, the Revolutionary Guard Corps.
On March 30, Khamenei said very clearly that “If the Islamic establishment seeks technology and negotiations but does not have defensive power, it will have to back down in the face of any petty country that threatens it.