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PODCAST: The Dangers of the Iran Nuclear and Missile Deals

LISTEN to this podcast of the January 17, 2016 Lisa Benson Show with Claudia Rosett on KKNT 960 – The Patriot. Lisa Benson and New English Review Senior Editor Jerry Gordon co-hosted this show with commentary from Board of Advisors member, Richard Cutting.

On Saturday, January 16, 2016 there was a plethora of breaking news. It was kicked off with the lifting of sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program triggered by alleged compliance with terms of the JCPOA political agreement certified by the UN watchdog agency, the IAEA.  This was the Orwellian “implementation Day” under the unsigned agreement by all of the parties to JCOPA starting 24/7 monitoring of Iranian enrichment facilities.  There was the announcement from Tehran  of  the swap of  five US citizens held hostage in Iran  in exchange for  Clemency granted by President Obama  for  seven Iranians convicted or charged with industrial espionage and acquisition of illicit equipment and software for nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Sunday morning, January 17, 2016 there were further developments; the announcement by   the US Treasury Office e for Foreign Assets Control of new sanctions against 11 individuals and entities in Iran involved with illicit procurement  for ballistic missile development. Iran had launched two precision guided ballistic missiles in tests in October and November 2015 that violated UN Res. 1929 and JCPOA provisions arousing the ire of Congress.

President Obama in remarks on these developments, released on Sunday, said:

“Today’s progress — Americans coming home, an Iran that has rolled back its nuclear program and accepted unprecedented monitoring of that program — these things are a reminder of what we can achieve when we lead with strength and with wisdom; with courage and resolve and patience. America can do, and has done, big things when we work together”.

Watch the President’s  YouTube video remarks on this alleged historic political deal  purportedly preventing Iran  from developing nuclear weapons:

To complicate matters there was seizure of 10 U.S. Navy sailors and their Riverine Command boats coincidental with the President’s State of the Union Address before Congress on Tuesday, January 12th. Iran flashed video and pictures of the crews kneeling with hands behind their heads at gunpoint held by IRGC soldiers followed with an apology by the young commander for entering Iranian controlled waters off Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf. Earlier on January 6th, a mini earthquake registering 5.5 on the Richter scale was picked by the several seismographic agencies in China, Japan and the US signaling the fourth in a series of illicit nuclear blasts by North Korea. That immediately led to the question of whether it was a mini-hydrogen bomb as promoted in propaganda by Pyongyang or perhaps a test of nuclear warheads. Warheads capable of being fitted on missiles that North Korea had developed and sold to Iran.

In anticipation of these developments we had asked recommendations from a valued guest of the Lisa Benson broadcasts, Shoshana Bryen , senior director of the Washington, DC  Jewish Policy Center as to who we might bring on to comment on these developments and the Iran – North Korea  strategic alliance. She suggested we contact Claudia Rosett, Journalist in Residence at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.  We followed up on her suggestion and arranged to have Rosett as our guest on the Sunday, January 17th broadcast. That was a fortunate coincident. We had met Rosett in 2009 at a presentation she gave in Pensacola, Florida on the official corruption in the UN Oil for Food program. See our New English Review article; “Claudia Rosett: The UN is Absolutely Corrupt” (February 2009).

Claudia Rosett Journalist-in-Residence Foundation for Defense of Democracy.

Claudia Rosett is an award-winning reporter and commentator. Over the past 35 years, including 18 years as a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal from 1984-2002, she reported from Asia, the former Soviet Union, Latin America and the Middle East. Ms. Rosett has testified before six U.S. Congressional committees on topics including corruption under the United Nations Oil-for-Food program in Iraq, and the strategic alliance between North Korea and Iran. Currently she is focused on illicit networks of Iran and North Korea, including shipping traffic. Ms. Rosett holds a B.A. from Yale, an M.A. from Columbia, and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, with a specialization in finance.

Here are some of the high points raised by Rosett during the Lisa Benson Show broadcast:

  • Iran never signed the nuclear deal now being implemented, nor did any of the other parties (the U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China, and Germany).
  • This is not a lasting or enforceable deal.
  • IAEA monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program guarantees nothing. The IAEA has no power to enforce, only to monitor. Iran can play the same game of chicken as North Korea did, throwing  out IAEA monitors when convenient, and carrying on to make nuclear bombs.
  • In the deals now going on, both nuclear and the hostage/prisoner releases this past weekend, Iran is cleaning up.
  • Remember, Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. The real headline should be: Return of some $100 billion in unfrozen funds to world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.
  • Iran carried out two sanctions-violating ballistic missile tests this past fall; the only real reason Iran to continue developing ballistic missiles would be to put nuclear warheads on them.
  • President Obama, in deciding which Iranians to release in the hostage/prisoner swap, ruled out prisoners detained for terrorism and violent crime, but released violators of sanctions in other words; he pardoned people some of whom had abetted Iran’s weapons and nuclear programs. A damaging signal that the U.S. is not serious about enforcing this nuclear deal.
  • Iran will now be able to access roughly $100 billion, or by some accounts more, in unfrozen funds though the actual amount remains murky.  We have never been given a full accounting of these funds.
  • There has been deliberate obfuscation by the Obama Administration on the terms of this nuclear deal (the secret side agreements between Iran and the IAEA, for instance) as well as the consequences.
  • The possibility of Iran and North Korea working together on nuclear missiles is a serious concern. In the 21st century, North Korea is the only country known to have tested nuclear weapons. It is the obvious place for the Iranians to hide a nuclear test, or benefit from the data, in plain sight.
  • Israel’s air force destroyed the Al Kibar nuclear reactor that was being built in Syria with substantial help from North Korea. The U.S. should have allowed a similar strike against Iran some time ago, or the U.S. should have carried one out itself.
  • We have just seen U.S. sailors detained on their knees before the Iranians before they were released. When have we seen members of the Iranian military on their knees before the U.S?  Iran is humiliating America. This is an invitation to other enemies of America to do the same.

The Iran deal is worse than the nuclear deals the U.S. cut with North Korea.  North Korea has been making nuclear weapons and conducted four nuclear tests. Iran is even more dangerous, and the consequences here could be much worse.

Our usually astute European listener commented with his opinions:

The Iranian deal agreed and pushed forward by the Obama administration gave in to all Iranian demands and the nuclear watchdog deal by the IAEA is a complete sham. As mentioned numerous times the Iranians have in undisclosed parts of Iran three other nuclear research sites which have never been checked on and where they are continuing enrichment.

The JCPOA is a draft which was to be negotiated and approved but nothing was discussed and the addendums were all kept top secret.

For the P5 the whole deal is a way to boost their trade deficits and they accepted everything that the Obama Administration and the Iranians agreed on.

The IAEA made a complete flop of their controls in North Korea and the same could occur in Iran.

It has been that North Korea is being financed by Iran and they could easily sell nuclear warheads and ship them by plane to Iran.

I sincerely hope that some lawmakers in the U.S. have listened to this broadcast and will take the necessary steps to block the Iranian agreement after the elections.

RELATED ARTICLE: World Watches How Iran, Now Free of Nuclear Sanctions, Will Act

EDITORS NOTE: This podcast originally appeared in the New English Review.

Iran releases 4 hostages: ‘Money talks and people Walk’

This Los Angeles Times breaking news from Press TV in Tehran  about the release of four Iranian-Americans by Tehran, on the brink of alleged compliance with the JCPOA, is a reflection of an old adage.  “Money talks and people walk”.

The Islamic Republic is eager to have released the $100 billion in oil revenues sequestered in several non-US foreign banks. Those released funds will doubtless be used to crank up an estimated 500,000 barrels of oil production in 2016 to add to the existing glut in the world energy markets, clearly aimed at breaking US and OPEC competitive producers. This despite demonstrable violations of UN Resolution 1929 and the JCPOA provisions barring development of ballistic missiles given two tests in October and November 2015.

Add to that  restart of its hegemonic aspirations and support of terrorism via its proxies, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Houthi, among others.  There are those of us who firmly believe that Iran already has nuclear capabilities, achieved via a long standing alliance with the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea.  That will be one of the topics on Sunday’s Lisa Benson Show with guest Claudia Rosett, Forbes and Wall Street Journal columnist of note and resident journalist at the Washington, D.C. – based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

We’re sure that the families of ex-Marine Hekmati, Pastor Abedini, convicted Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and one of the two American-Iranian businessmen welcome this news of their release when confirmed. But there is another imprisoned American, whose whereabouts is still unknown, ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson.

Ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson, 2011

Ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson, 2011. Source: Levinson family.

On March 9, 2015 , we posted this question on the NER/Iconoclast:  “Where is Ex-FBI Agent Robert Levinson, President Rouhani?”  We noted:

FBI director James Comey announced today that the agency raised the reward for information to $5 million on the whereabouts of former FBI agent Robert Levinson of Coral Springs, Florida.  Levinson disappeared from the Kish Island resort in the Persian Gulf eight years ago. A proof of life video of him was last seen in 2011. His family and lawyer have endeavored to seek the assistance of the Administration to have him returned. Secretary of State John Kerry apparently asked Foreign Minister Zarif for assistance in locating him.  CBS News reported:

FBI Director James Comey said “it is long past time for Bob to come home.” Secretary of State John Kerry urged the Iranian government to “work cooperatively with us on the investigation.”

An Associated Press investigation published in 2013 revealed that Levinson vanished while working for the CIA on an unapproved intelligence-gathering mission. In January 2014, Christine Levinson confirmed her husband was working for U.S. intelligence.

“He was working as a consultant for the CIA,” she told CBS News. “He was also a private investigator. He was able to do both at the same time in his travels.”

Tuesday is Levinson’s 67th birthday. He retired from the FBI in 1998.

Levinson has had no direct contact with his family since his capture in 2007. In 2010, documents detailing Levinson’s “arrest and detention in Iran” were anonymously emailed to his wife, who later received pictures and a short videotape.

[…]

“Leads were followed up, and investigations were made, but we have not gotten any new information about Bob,” Christine Levinson said last year.

We wrote about the shadowy circumstances behind his likely abduction on his way to meet an American convert to Islam David Belfield, a.k.a. Dawud Salahuddin, who assassinated a leading opponent of the Islamic republic, disguised as a postman delivering a package to him in suburban Washington, DC. See our December 13, 2013 Iconoclast post, Unanswered Questions Follow the Levinson CIA Rogue Mission Expose:

There were secret House and Senate Intelligence Hearings on the Levinson disappearance and CIA involvement.  A multi-million compensation deal for Levinson’s wife to keep her quiet was engineered in part by Florida US Senator, Bill Nelson. Meanwhile in 2011, proof of life videos and photos emerge showing a bushy haired grey bearded Levinson attired in an orange prisoner jumpsuit in chains pleading for his life. According to the WaPo report, the video audio background appears to favor the notion that he may have been moved to Afghanistan or Pakistan by Iranian intelligence.  The US secretly approached Iran about Levinson’s whereabouts. Meanwhile former Iranian President Ahmadinejad charged the US with using Levinson to perpetrate another CIA plot not unlike the 1950’s one that overthrew Iranian President Mohammed Mossadegh. Then in 2013 a new ‘reformist’ Iranian President emerges after the June election who engages in dialogue with the Obama Administration.  The State Department alleges that it made inquires during the recent P5+1 negotiation with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif concerning the whereabouts of another American prisoner, Pastor Abedini. However there is silence on the whereabouts of Levinson.  Concern rises about Levinson given that he is a diabetic and may have a heart condition. The inference is that he might have died in the course of interrogation. His case has gone dark. That is, until today’s expose. An expose that appears to have been embargoed for several years.

[…]

The assassin Salahuddin was recruited in 1980 by the late Muslim Brotherhood principal, Dr. Said Ramadan, father of Oxford/Notre Dame Professor Tariq, to do a hit for Ayatollah Khomeini.  Salahuddin, disguised as a US Postman, went to the door of a former Shah official in Washington, DC suburb, Ali Akbar Tabatabai’e,   shot and killed him and then fled to Tehran. We wrote about this Ramadan assassination mission ordered by Ayatollah Khomeini in our NER article How the CIA Helped the Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrate the West (August 2011).   Given Salahuddin’s background, that possibly means Levinson set up for a snatch by Iranian Intelligence. Given Levinson’s ‘contract’ work with the CIA Illicit Funds Office in Venezuela and Colombia, our hunch is that the IRGC Quds Force  got wind of this in Venezuela and started tracking him.

Now that Iran is getting its impounded $100 billion back and releasing four imprisoned Iranian Americans, it is  time for Secretary Kerry to fess up and press Iran for information on Levinson, and, if hopefully alive, obtain his release, now.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Who is Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari? The Story of the Fourth American Prisoner

ANALYSIS: Obama’s fantasy of a new Iran endangers us all

Iran Cashes In on Sanctions Relief and Hostages

Report: Iranian-American Hanged in Iran

Tehran Acknowledges 200 Thousand Armed Youth in Five Countries

As sanctions are lifted, PM pledges Israel will never allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Is the U.S. State Department Taking Reports of North Korea-Iranian Nuclear Cooperation Seriously?

At today’s State Department Daily Press Briefing, spokesperson Jeff Rathke was asked by Matt Lee, AP White House correspondent about reports by the Paris-based Iranian dissident group, the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI) about alleged North Korean meetings in Iran alleging discussions over nuclear program cooperation an ICBM developments.  Reuters reported the NCRI group allegation that:

Citing information from sources inside Iran, including within Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Paris-based NCRI said a seven-person North Korean Defense Ministry team was in Iran during the last week of April. This was the third time in 2015 that North Koreans had been to Iran and a nine-person delegation was due to return in June, it said.

“The delegates included nuclear experts, nuclear warhead experts and experts in various elements of ballistic missiles including guidance systems,” the NCRI said.

In response to AP’s Lee question Rathke said, “We are taking these allegations very seriously” citing various UN Security Council Resolutions sanctioning the proliferation behavior of the DPRK. That led Lee and other correspondents to inquire whether this would impact the current P5+1 negotiations in Vienna seeking to conclude a comprehensive Joint Plan of Action by June 30th.  We posted  yesterday that France’s Foreign Minister demanding that Iran agree to  UN IAEA inspectors be  given  full access to military facilities for verification of prior developments.

Watch this C-SPAN video clip on the exchanges between State Department Jeff Rathke and AP’s Lee and other reporters at today’s Press Briefing:

Satellite Image of the Sohae Launch Facility, North Korea

North Korean Sohae Missile Launch site, November 2012. Source: Space.com

The Reuters report gave indications of previous unverified reports about such cooperation between the DPRK and Iran:

The NCRI said the North Korean delegation was taken secretly to the Imam Khomenei complex, a site east of Tehran controlled by the Defense Ministry. It gave detailed accounts of locations and who the officials met.

It said the delegation dealt with the Center for Research and Design of New Aerospace Technology, a unit of nuclear weaponization research, and a planning center called the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, which is under U.S. sanctions.

Reuters could not independently verify the allegations.

“Tehran has shown no interest in giving up its drive to nuclear weapons. The weaponization program is continuing and they have not slowed down the process,” NCRI spokesman Shahin Gobadi said.

U.N. watchdog the IAEA, which for years has investigated alleged nuclear arms research by Tehran, declined to comment. North Korean officials were not available for comment.

Several Western officials said they were not aware of a North Korean delegation traveling to Iran recently.

A Western diplomat said there had been proven military cooperation between Iran and North Korea in the past.

North Korean and Iranian officials meet in the course of general diplomacy. On April 23, Kim Yong Nam, North Korea’s ceremonial head of state and Iran’s president held a rare meeting on the sidelines of the Asian-African summit in Jakarta.

My colleague Ilana Freedman and this writer have reported on Iranian and DPRK on both nuclear and ICBM developments and nuclear tests in NER and Iconoclast posts.  In a March 2014, NER, article, “Has Iran Developed Nuclear Weapons in North Korea”, we cited Freedman reporting:

According to my sources, Iran began moving its bomb manufacturing operations from Iran to North Korea in December 2012. Two facilities near Nyongbyon in North Pyongan province, some 50 miles north of Pyongyang, have become a new center for Iran’s nuclear arms program.

Over the last year, Iran has been secretly supplying raw materials to the reactor at Nyongbyon for the production of plutonium. At a second facility, located about fifteen miles north and with a code name that translates to ‘Thunder God Mountain’, nuclear warheads are being assembled and integrated with MIRV platforms. MIRVs are offensive ballistic missile systems that can support multiple warheads, each of which can be aimed at an independent target, but are all launched by a single booster rocket. Approximately 250-300 Iranian scientists are now reported to be in North Korea, along with a small cadre of IRGC personnel to provide for their security.

According to the reports, the Iranian-North Korean collaboration has already produced the first batch of fourteen nuclear warheads. A dedicated fleet of Iranian cargo aircraft, a combination of 747′s and Antonov heavy-lifters, which has been ferrying personnel and materials back and forth between Iran and North Korea, is in place to bring the assembled warheads back to Iran.

In a June 2014, Iconoclast post, “Does Iran/ North Korean Nuclear & ICBM Development Preclude A P5+1 Agreement?” we cited a Wall Street Journal report by  Claudia Rosett, journalist in residence at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Iran Could Outsource Its Nuclear –Weapons Program to North Korea. Rosett commented:

The pieces have long been in place for nuclear collaboration between the two countries. North Korea and Iran are close allies, drawn together by decades of weapons deals and mutual hatred of America and its freedoms. Weapons-hungry Iran has oil; oil-hungry North Korea makes weapons. North Korea has been supplying increasingly sophisticated missiles and missile technology to Iran since the 1980s, when North Korea hosted visits by Hasan Rouhani (now Iran’s president) and Ali Khamenei (Iran’s supreme leader since the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989).

Rosett in the WSJ oped lays out the case for what the NER article demonstrated was a plausible means of evading sanctions. The evidence for that we noted was North Korean/ Iranian cooperation with Assad’s Syria creating a plutonium reactor on the Euphrates at Al Kibar destroyed by Israel’s Air Force in September 2007. We drew attention to Iranian/ North Korean joint development of large rocket boosters sufficient to loft nuclear MIRV warheads and the likelihood that Iran might have that capability within a few years. In June 2014, The Algemeiner reported an Iranian official announcing that it possessed a 5,000 kilometer (approximately 3,125 miles) range missile that could hit the strategic base of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean:

“In the event of a mistake on the part of the United States, their bases in Bahrain and (Diego) Garcia will not be safe from Iranian missiles,” said an Iranian Revolutionary Guard adviser to Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Majatba Dhualnuri.

In an April 15, 2015, Iconoclast post, “Obama Administration Knew of Illegal North Korea Missile Technology Transfers to Iran During Talks” we reported:

Bill Gertz has a blockbuster expose in today’s Washington Free Beacon of something we have been hammering away for years: the technology transfer of missile and nuclear technology between North Korea and the Iran, “North Korea Transfers Missile Goods to Iran During Nuclear Talks.”  The stunning disclosure was that U.S. intelligence has known about the illegal transfer in violation of UN arms sanctions, as apparently did the Obama Administration. You recall the statement that Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman made before a Senate hearing in early 2014. Sherman said, “that if Iran can’t get the bomb then its ballistic missiles would be irrelevant.”

Gertz went on to report:

Since September more than two shipments of missile parts have been monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies as they transited from North Korea to Iran, said officials familiar with intelligence reports who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Details of the arms shipments were included in President Obama’s daily intelligence briefings and officials suggested information about the transfers was kept secret from the United Nations, which is in charge of monitoring sanctions violations.

While the CIA declined to comment on these allegations claiming classified information, others, Gertz queried said that “such transfers were covered by the Missile Technology Control Regime, a voluntary agreement among 34 nations that limits transfers of missiles and components of systems with ranges of greater than 186 miles.”

One official said the transfers between North Korea and Iran included large diameter engines, which could be used for a future Iranian long-range missile system.

The compilation of these reports and today’s exchange at the State Department Press Briefing clearly raises the ante as to why in one reporter’s query, ‘our negotiators” haven’t simply asked  Foreign Minister Zarif in Vienna  is there such cooperation going on, backed up by the intelligence reports cited by Gertz and others?  Our suspicion is that French Foreign Minister Fabius has better feed on Iranian nuclear and ICBM developments than our CIA.  Or more likely is the Obama West Wing suggesting not to believe those lying reports in the President’s  Daily Intelligence Briefing? After all, President Obama, Secretary Kerry and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman want nothing to stand in the way of an agreement with Iran, even it means evading the truth. Stay tuned for developments.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is from the official site of the President of The Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran/ North Korean Nuclear & ICBM Development Precludes a P5+1 Agreement

Reuel Marc Gerecht, Senior Fellow of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies published a book review in Friday’s Wall Street Journal by former Pentagon official, Matthew Kroenig, A Time to AttackThe Looming Iranian Nuclear ThreatMatthew Kroenig is an Associate Professor and International Relations Field Chair in the Department of Government at Georgetown University. Kroenig, who served under former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, presents a thesis that the only way to stop the Islamic regime in Tehran from achieving nuclear hegemony is for the US, not Israel, to bomb several key facilities in Iran. The suggested targets are the centrifuge enrichment centers at Fordow and Natanz, the uranium conversion facility at Isfahan, and the plutonium producing heavy water reactor at Arak.

timetoattackbookcoverWhy? Because as Gerecht relates, the sanctions regime has not deterred Iran from investing over $100 billion in the project to achieve nuclear hegemony replete with the means of delivery. Further, as he points out in his review, the US has the means to seriously cripple those facilities with 30,000 pound bunker busting deep penetrating bombs. The hoped for Stuxnet malworm and other cyber warfare is past. Gerecht notes in his review, they have only “gummed up” the whirling centrifuges enriching weapons grade uranium. Neither does he believe that targeted assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, allegedly by Mossad, has put a dent in Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear capability. Given that the current P5+1 discussions with Iran seeking to perfect a final agreement with a deadline of July 20th, Gerecht makes this prediction:

Next month in Vienna, Iran and the P5+1 world powers will extend the interim agreement they struck six months ago on Iran’s nuclear program. Secretary of State John Kerry will hold a press conference, offering both sides solemn praise for finding common ground. All the while, through this tough compromise and historic collaboration, the Islamic Republic’s 9,000 spinning centrifuges will keep on enriching uranium; the other 10,000 installed centrifuges won’t be dismantled. Eventually these centrifuges, or thousands of new-and-improved ones, will be able to produce bomb-grade fuel.

Kroenig cautions:

Why would anyone believe that we would fight a nuclear war with Iran if we didn’t even have the stomach for a conventional war with a nonnuclear Iran?

Gericht’s conclusion from his review of Kroenig’s, A Time to Attack:

Mr. Kroenig readily admits that there will be costs for preventive military action. Tehran will likely respond with terrorism, directly or through proxies. But Mr. Kroenig contends that those costs are much lower than allowing Iran to go nuclear. Whether or not he’s right, we will soon find out.

Watch this May 12, 2014  C-SPAN Book TV discussion with Prof. Kroenig about A Time to Attack.

Problem is that the Obama Administration failed to foster regime change in Iran in the fraudulent elections of June 2009. Israel and many others concerned over Iran’s rising hegemony in the Middle East believe that America doesn’t have the will and the unity to undertake what Kroenig suggests. Just look at the President latest tracking poll numbers; less than 37% of American thinks that he is pursuing foreign policies protecting our nation’s interests.

Claudia Rosett in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal  published an op ed, Iran Could Outsource Its Nuclear –Weapons Program to North Korea. Rosett commented:

The pieces have long been in place for nuclear collaboration between the two countries. North Korea and Iran are close allies, drawn together by decades of weapons deals and mutual hatred of America and its freedoms. Weapons-hungry Iran has oil; oil-hungry North Korea makes weapons. North Korea has been supplying increasingly sophisticated missiles and missile technology to Iran since the 1980s, when North Korea hosted visits by Hasan Rouhani (now Iran’s president) and Ali Khamenei (Iran’s supreme leader since the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989).

In the March edition of the NER, we published a piece entitled, Has Iran Developed Nuclear Weapons in North Korea?  We wrote:

The UN nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA has no access to North Korean nuclear facilities. These developments corroborate the assessment of private intelligence and national security analyst Ilana Freedman. See The Freedman Report on January 31st, “A Friendlier Iran? Or Have They Just Moved Their Nukes to North Korea?

Rosett in the WSJ op ed lays out the case for what the NER article demonstrated was a plausible means of evading sanctions. The evidence for that we noted was North Korean/ Iranian cooperation with Assad’s Syria creating a plutonium reactor on the Euphrates at Al Kibar destroyed by Israel’s Air Force in September 2007. We drew attention to Iranian/ North Korean joint development of large rocket boosters sufficient to loft nuclear MIRV warheads and the likelihood that Iran might have that capability within a few years. In June 2014, The Algemeiner reported an Iranian official announcing that it possessed a 5,000 kilometer (approximately 3,125 miles) range missile that could hit the strategic base of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean:

“In the event of a mistake on the part of the United States, their bases in Bahrain and (Diego) Garcia will not be safe from Iranian missiles,” said an Iranian Revolutionary Guard adviser to Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Majatba Dhualnuri.

Kroenig wrote in his book:

Iran is building ICBMs No country on Earth, not even the United States, mounts conventional warheads on ICBMs. Traditionally, ICBMs have had one purpose: to deliver nuclear warheads thousands of miles away. If Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, then why does it have such a robust ICBM development program?

The clock is ticking on  P5+1 and Iran endeavoring to reach an agreement by July 20th. Five days of talks in Vienna ended yesterday. They will reconvene on July 2nd and may or may not conclude with an agreement on July 20th.  The Wall Street Journal in a report on those negotiations contrasted the views of US Negotiator, Deputy Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, with those of Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.  It noted that the talks ended without a joint statement. Sherman said: “We are at a very crucial moment in these negotiations. Our Conversations this week have been very tough but constructive.”  Zarif commented that only a deal could emerge if the US backed away from what he termed were “excessive demands.” “I advised them to think more seriously and to be realistic and to look for a solution.” Translated that means, we are poles apart. Meanwhile those centrifuges at Fordow and Natanz keep whirling enriching uranium while Iranian/ North Korean joint ICBM and MIRV development continue.  If we were bettors, we’d put even money on Gericht’s prediction: no agreement by July 20th or even six months hence.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.