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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

North Korea and Iran: A Twosome Sharing Nuclear Information?

Nadene Goldfoot
Netanyahu just said yesterday that Iran is getting closer to the red line that he had set at the UN.  I note that they've been slowed down by computer viruses like the Stuxnet in June 2010, thought to have been planted by the USA and Israel but not proven.  Iran claimed that 5 Iranian nuclear scientists were killed and they hung an Israeli.   They're building centrifuges that enrich the uranium needed to make nuclear bombs at 3 times the pace.  They could cross that red line and get to a high enrichment of 90% enriched uranium in a much shorter time.

In 2007, the Israelis bombed the al-Kibar nuclear site in Syria which the North Koreans helped to design.  It was a plutonium facility.

Lee Smith, Senior Editor at the Weekly Standard and Fellow at the Foundation For Defense of Democracies and writer about the ties between Iranians and North Korean scientists, feels that they may already have the bomb.  His background gives him some skills to learn about what the Iranians have been doing.  Smith has a B.A. from George Washington University, where he received awards in English and Latin.  He received the Sage Graduate School Fellowship at Cornell University, and studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo and Universite Saint-Joseph in Beirut.  He knows Spanish, Arabic, French and Latin.  English must be his native language.

For at least the last 10 years, the North Koreans have cooperated with Iran on nuclear and missile issues.  The Iranians have several full-time weapons engineers on site in North Korea.  This has not been a secret.

Last fall, North Korea and Iran signed a paper regarding science and technology.  The North Koreans published the names who signed, including the head of Iran's atomic energy organization and the defense minister.  They are exchanging information.  There are precedents for states passing on designs.  The New York Times spoke with a senior US official who said that the North Koreans are testing for 2 countries.

North Korea has been into nuclear goals since December 12, 1985 when they acceded to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.  They then withdrew from the IAEA in 1994.  By July 9th, President Kim II Sung died and Kim Jong II took over.  By August 31, 1998, their 3 stage rocket was fired with a range of 93-1,240 miles which went over Japan.  By July 4, 2006 they had a 7 ballistic missile fail but by October 9th had an underground test.  April 5, 2009 they tested a 3 stage rocket.  May 25, 2009 was a 2nd underground test.  December 17, 2011, Kim Jong II died and Kim Jong-Un took over.  On April 13th, a satellite rocket failed but by December 12, 2012, they launched the Unha-3.

January 2013:  Kim Jong-un, about 20 years old, said that the USA was the prime target for Pyongyang's nuclear  and missile tests.  "North Korea is a "serious threat" to the United States and Washington must be prepared to deal with it, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned after Pyongyang conducted a nuclear test.

"We saw what North Korea has done these last few weeks with a missile test and now a nuclear test,"  said Leon Panetta, the outgoing Defense Secretary, at a farewell ceremony.  Their goal is to be a force to be reckoned with.  Now South Korea is planning to build ballistic missiles.

On February 2013:  Iran's Ali Khomeini rejected negotiation with the USA over their nuclear ability.  Both North Korea and Iran feel that no one can stop them.  They are both paranoid, secretive regimes.  Jeffrey Lewis, Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at Monterrey Institute feels it's hard to know if North Korea would give the blueprints to Iran.  They do need money, though, and Iran would pay.

North Korea's 1st test most likely used plutonium.

Iranians were at North Korea's 2nd nuclear test.  In May 2009 the explosion was half the size as its 3rd test.  They probably used plutonium then, too.

Iranians were at North Korea's last nuclear test on Tuesday the 12th.  It was a 5.0 in magnitude, half the size of the Hiroshima blast.  It was believed to be an enriched uranium devise.  "Pyongyang appears to detonate a nuclear device with regional monitors detecting an unusual seismic event, of a magnitude between 4.9 and 5.1, in the same location as the North's Punggye-ri nuclear test site.  Seoul estimates the blast yield at six to seven kilotons."

I'll be listening to Lee speak tomorrow night.  There might be more insights into just what is going on.

Resource:  Why Iran Already Has the Bomb, by Lee Smith  originally on Tablet Magazine.

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