Korea Middle East

The Iranian-North Korean Nexus After the Singapore Summit

In the wake of the Singapore summit, it is plausible that North Korea will be required by the US to avoid technology transfer to, and interactions with, other states or entities with regard to military nuclear technologies or armaments. It is not yet known whether Iran will be specifically mentioned during negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington. If it is, there will need to be control measures set up to validate that contact between Tehran and Pyongyang is not taking place. Beyond those agreed-upon control measures, a variety of surveillance steps will have to be taken by intelligence apparatuses checking for hermetic monitoring.

The surreptitious Iranian-North Korean interface has a long history. Its main component is a tight technological cooperation in the fields of missiles and nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Each country has its own knowhow that it contributes to that cooperation. Iran substantially foots the bill.

The Iranian-North Korean interface has boosted Syrian strategic military capacities, a vector that climaxed in the form of the Syrian plutonium reactor that was destroyed by the IDF in 2007. But even irrespective of Syria, the Pyongyang-Tehran nexus ought to be broken.

The two states are more or less equivalent from a scientific standpoint, with each having certain advantages over the other that they share without reservation. Both possess arsenals of operational chemical and biological weapons, including weapons in the form of warheads carried on missiles. The cardinal difference is the possession of nuclear weapons – along with the related knowhow – by North Korea. Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons persists undiminished, if restrained somewhat by the 2015 Vienna Nuclear Deal.

The summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un created an entirely new situation. It is now open to question whether or not Kim Jong-un intends to give up his full inventory of military nuclear assets – almost any conveyable component of which Iran would be happy to possess. The last thing Tehran wants is to be informed by Pyongyang that its precious inventory is being completely destroyed or dismantled to meet the terms of a nuclear disarmament regime to be created with the US.

Read more at the Begin-Sadat Center For Strategic Studies

About the author

Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Dany Shoham

Former senior analyst in IDF military intelligence and the Ministry of Defense. Specializes in chemical and biological warfare in the Middle East and worldwide.