At Tablet Magazine, Lee Smith offers a provocative argument that if “North Korea has the bomb, then for all practical purposes Iran does, too.”
If this sounds hyperbolic, consider the history of extensive North Korean-Iranian cooperation on a host of military and defense issues, including ballistic missiles and nuclear development, that dates back to the 1980s. This cooperation includes North Korean sales of technology and arms, like the BM-25, a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and reaching Western Europe; Iran’s Shahab 3 missile is based on North Korea’s Nodong-1 and is able to reach Israel. Iran has a contigent of Iranian weapons engineers and defense officials stationed in North Korea. Meantime, North Korean scientists visit Iran. And last fall, both countries signed a memorandum of understanding regarding scientific, academic, and technological issues.
Smith points to signs that North Korea and Iran have already formed a collaborative relationship, and singles out the incentives on both sides: Tehran wants nuclear technology, Pyongyang wants money. (North Korea is believed to have helped build a nuclear reactor for Syria, an Iranian ally.)