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Reports Spread about North Korea Helping Iran Test a Uranium Bomb

The following was taken from Jspace.com.  The article was written by Jspace Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Rob Lattin, who also blogs about Israeli and Middle Eastern foreign policy for Foreign Policy Blogs. 

Reports Spread about North Korea Helping Iran Test a Uranium Bomb

Are Iran and North Korea in bed together? What will be the Western response? (Picture: IRNA.ir)

While US and Israeli leaders were talking tough on Iran at last week’s AIPAC Policy Conference, reports and rumors began swirling that Iran may very well be closer to the bomb than previously believed. Some foreign intelligence agencies are now beginning to say that in 2010, Iran may have been involved in an experimental detonation of a uranium bomb in North Korea.

The accusation was first made public by senior German defense figure, Hans Ruhle, and first appeared on the website of the German newspaper Die Welt. Ruhle headed the planning department of the German Defense Ministry from 1982 to 1988.

Ruhle told Die Welt, “Intelligence services have observed a close degree of co-operation between North Korean and Iranian experts over a period of years for the preparation of a nuclear test.”

On why Iran would coordinate with North Korea, Ruhle said, “What if Iran were prepared to do a nuclear test? And if it were done not on Iranian territory, but instead without looking back at world opinion, done where nuclear tests always took place, where people stood ready to export nuclear expertise and technology in exchange for hard currency–in North Korea?”

Jspace reached out to several security experts to find out more about the Iranian-North Korean connection and the joint test. Danielle Pletka, Vice President of the Foreign and Defense Policy Studies Department at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington DC-based think tank, told Jspace News, “I believe there is some certainty that Iranians were present at one of the nuclear tests … the challenge is understanding why Iranians were present. Were the norks [North Koreans] testing for Iran? Or with Iran? It requires much more intel to know that, and I’m not aware of any to indicate for.” North Korea openly acknowledged that they tested nuclear weapons in 2006 and 2009.

The Israeli online intelligence and security news service, Debkafile, which is known to at times report over the top conspiracy theories, reported that it was possible that the tested bomb was a “dirty bomb.” A dirty bomb is one that has a regular-sized explosion, but disseminates radioactive material in to the air.

Commenting specifically on the issue of a dirty bomb, Michael Eisenstadt, Director of the Military and Security Studies Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, another Washington DC-based think tank, told Jspace News, “Radiological weapons are greatly overrated. And the Iranians don’t need North Korea to test one of these for them. They involve a small conventional explosion that would disseminate radioactive material over a couple of city blocks at most.”

He continued, “These stories have legs only because people don’t understand what radiological weapons are … I have no idea whether it happened or not, but the risk posed by radiological weapons are greatly overstated. Anything having to do with radiation puts people in a panic. And Iran doesn’t need North Korea’s help with this … but I suppose it could have happened.”

While security experts are fairly certain there has been coordination on the nuclear front between Iran and North Korea, the level of coordination is largely unknown. However, the whole situation begs the question of how President Barack Obama and Israeli leadership will respond. If the speeches given at AIPAC were any indication, the development of strategies for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities is likely being sped up.

 

Author

Rob Lattin

Rob Lattin recently completed his Master's in International Affairs at the City College of New York, where he won the Frank Owarish prize for graduating at the top of his class. His thesis explored Democratic Peace Theory and its applicability to small powers, and used the relationship between Turkey and Israel as its case study. Rob received his B.A. in Near Eastern Studies and Political Science, graduating from the University of Arizona with honors.

Rob has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East and has lived in Haifa, Israel. In addition to blogging for FPB, he is the Foreign Affairs Correspondent for Jspace.com. He currently splits his time between Washington D.C. and New York City.

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