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January 24, 2007
North Korea Assistance For Iran?

The Iranians may be getting expert assistance on their nuclear program from North Korea and may have begun preparing a device test with their help, the London Telegraph reports:

North Korea is helping Iran to prepare an underground nuclear test similar to the one Pyongyang carried out last year.

Under the terms of a new understanding between the two countries, the North Koreans have agreed to share all the data and information they received from their successful test last October with Teheran's nuclear scientists. ...

A senior European defence official told The Daily Telegraph that North Korea had invited a team of Iranian nuclear scientists to study the results of last October's underground test to assist Teheran's preparations to conduct its own — possibly by the end of this year.

There were unconfirmed reports at the time of the Korean firing that an Iranian team was present. Iranian military advisers regularly visit North Korea to participate in missile tests.

Now the long-standing military co-operation between the countries has been extended to nuclear issues.

This should come as no surprise. President Bush didn't just make up the Axis of Evil out of thin air. Both countries have pursued nuclear weapons for over a decade, and both managed to hide the extent of their programs until the past few years. Even if cooperation between the two countries had been limited in the past, they both have ample incentive to combine their efforts to build nuclear arsenals to threaten the West together,

Iran got encouragement from the limp response to Kim's nuclear test last fall for expediting their own program. The North Koreans are probably the only nation that would assist Iran on developing nuclear weapons, and to give them the necessary boost that will speed up their development. Earlier estimates put a nuclear device out about 5 years for Teheran, but the Telegraph reports that the timetable has changed. Experts believe Iran could have a test-ready low-yield device within 12 months.

Feckless responses to provocations guarantee more of the same. When we fail to impose tough consequences on nations that engage in the kind of defiance that Kim demonstrated last year, then other nations notice and gain courage for their own intransigence. If we want to put an end to these nuclear programs, we had better come up with something more frightening than a strongly worded letter from the UN.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 24, 2007 8:03 AM

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