Hundreds of nuclear scientists from North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong-il died Saturday, are working in 10 different locations in Iran, The South Korean-based Korea Times reported this week.
North Korea has been known to be working closely with Iran, Pakistan and Syria on nuclear development, but the disclosure of the number of scientists in the Islamic Republic spells out the close ties between the two powers, part of what Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has called the ”axis of evil.”
The Korea Times quoted an unnamed source that the scientists and missile engineers are working at the Natanz and Qom sites, among others. Iran is operating a uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. Despite Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s denials, Israel and Western powers assume the objective of the enrichment plant is to use the uranium to build a nuclear weapon, while engineers try to build a missile capable of delivering it.
North Korea has an enrichment plant in its own country and has conducted nuclear tests. Both it and Iran are under United Nations sanctions for not cooperating with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors.
“The source with access to intelligence on the years-long weapons collaboration between Pyongyang and Tehran said the North Koreans are visiting Iran via third countries and many of them are being rotated every three to six months.” the newspaper reported.
“The North Korean experts are from the country's so-called Room 99, which is directly supervised by the North's ruling Workers' Party Munitions Industry Department,” it added. ”The room, which can be translated as office or bureau, is widely believed to be engaged in exports of weapons and military technology.”