Washington’s nuclear deal with Tehran depends on aggressive inspections inside Iran. But the mullahs may well have a secret program outside their borders.
In October 2012, Iran began stationing personnel at a military base in North Korea, in a mountainous area close to the Chinese border. The Iranians, from the Ministry of Defense and associated firms, reportedly are working on both missiles and nuclear weapons. Ahmed Vahidi, Tehran’s minister of defense at the time, denied sending people to the North, but the unconfirmed dispatches make sense in light of the two states announcing a technical cooperation pact the preceding month.
The negotiators from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China are trying to get Tehran to adhere to the Additional Protocol, which allows anytime, anyplace inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog. If Iran agrees to the IAEA’s intrusive inspections, proponents of the deal will claim a major breakthrough, arguing for instance that Iran will not be able to hide centrifuges in undisclosed locations.
But no inspections of Iranian sites will solve a fundamental issue: As can be seen from the North Korean base housing Tehran’s weapons specialists, Iran is only one part of a nuclear weapons effort spanning the Asian continent. North Korea, now the world’s proliferation superstar, is a participant. China, once the mastermind, may still be a co-conspirator. Inspections inside the borders of Iran, therefore, will not give the international community the assurance it needs.
In addition, the Kim Jong Un regime appears to have helped the Islamic Republic on its other pathway to the bomb. In 2013, Meir Dagan, a former Mossad director, charged the North with providing assistance to Iran’s plutonium reactor.
The relationship between the two regimes has been long-lasting. Hundreds of North Koreans have worked at about 10 nuclear and missile facilities in Iran. There were so many nuclear and missile scientists, specialists, and technicians that they took over their own coastal resort there, according to Henry Sokolski, the proliferation maven, writing in 2003.
The North Koreans are not the only contributors to the Iranian atom bomb. Iran got its first centrifuges from Pakistan, and Pakistan’s program was an offshoot from the Chinese one.
Some argue that China proliferated nuclear weapons through the infamous black market ring run by Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. There is no open source proof of that contention, but Beijing did nothing while Khan merchandised Chinese parts, plans, and knowhow—its most sensitive technology—from the capital of one of its closest allies. Moreover, Beijing did its best to protect the smuggler when Washington rolled up his network in the early part of last decade. The Chinese, for instance, supported General Pervez Musharraf’s controversial decision to end prematurely his government’s inquiry, which avoided exposing Beijing’s rumored involvement with Khan’s activities.
Full article: Does Iran Have Secret Nukes in North Korea? (The Daily Beast)