New concerns arise over North Korea-Iran nuclear ties

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U.S. officials are expressing renewed concerns that bolstered ties between Iran and North Korea may involve the exchange of nuclear weapons and missile technology.

A new analysis by the Washington Institute of Near East Policy notes that over the past year, U.S. intelligence agencies have identified Iranian defense officials in Pyongyang, which is raising the possibility that both countries may be sharing key military technologies.

Concerns about the possible collusion were bolstered following North Korea’s recent ICBM test, which was its longest thus far and which led analysts to estimate that Pyongyang now has a missile capable of reaching all of the United States.

In addition to Iranian officials traveling to North Korea, high-level officials from the regime of Kim Jong-un has gone to Iran at least once in the past year, U.S. intelligence officials said.

“In early August, Kim Yong-nam, North Korea’s No. 2 political leader and head of its legislature, departed Pyongyang amid great fanfare for an extended visit to Iran,” the analysis said. “The official reason was to attend the inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani, but the length of the visit raised alarm bells in Washington and allied capitals.”

In October, President Trump — in announcing he would not recertify that Iran was in compliance with the Obama-era nuclear deal — mentioned that “some people” believe Iran and North Korea are collaborating on missile and nuclear technology.

“The analysis pointed to a series of ‘covert contacts, with missile technicians from Iran’s Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group traveling last year to North Korea to help develop an 80-ton rocket booster for ballistic missiles.” [source]

Information in this article helps satisfy Priority Intelligence Requirement 2:  What is the current situation report and risk of war in each of the four flashpoints?

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