N. Korea, Iran 'Pledge Continued Cooperation' Over Nuke Program
On Saturday it was revealed that Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, met with North Korean delegates visiting Tehran in early August, and in the meeting promised to continue cooperation on nuclear missile development.
The North Koreans were visiting to attend Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's swearing-in ceremony. Japanese-language Kyodo News Agency broke the news on Sunday, citing a diplomatic source knowledgeable in Iran's internal affairs.
According to the Bangkok Post, North Korean concerns that Rouhani's perceived conciliatory position might threaten military cooperation with Pyongyang were assuaged by Jafari, who told them the Revolutionary Guards are not subordinate to the president but rather to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini.
He reportedly reassured them that cooperation on "strategic matters," such as nuclear missiles, would continue.
In early October, Iran's state run PressTV reported that Iran's Vice President met with the visiting North Korean Labor Minister and expressed the desire to "see relations between the two countries expand in all areas."
The ongoing cooperation belies Rouhani's "charm offensive" in wooing the West to ease sanctions on Iran, and reveals that the danger of Iranian and North Korean nuclear missiles remains as real as ever.
On Sunday, former UN Ambassador John Bolton gave an interview on WABC radio in which he stressed that Israel does not have much time to make a "fateful decision" about whether to strike Iran's nuclear sites or allow it to become an existential threat.
Bolton significantly remarked, "frankly, they should have done this years ago because we all know intelligence is imperfect and Iran may have a more developed capacity than we know about, perhaps in cooperation with North Korea.”
As for American involvement, Former US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta released statements this week suggesting that the US may have to use military force on Iran.
However, Bolton expressed skepticism about a US military action against Iran's nuclear program, warning “it isn’t going to happen under the Obama administration. I’ll just say it again. It isn’t going to happen.”
Iranian nuclear capacity doesn't only pose a threat to Israel. The Revolutionary Guards confirmed that "death to America" is still their slogan, a slogan they will sound on November 4, Iran's annual "Grand Day of Death to America."
The bellicose rhetoric clearly comes from the top in Iran, as on Sunday Supreme Leader Khameini called Israel an "illegitimate and bastard" regime, and called America a "smiling enemy" not to be trusted.
Today (Monday), Israeli National Security Council director Yaakov Amidror said Israel must do everything possible to remove the existential threat posed by Iran, explicitly leaving open the possibility of a military strike.
On the other side of the equation with Iran, AFP reported October 24 that North Korea built two new tunnel entrances at its atomic test site, signalling the regime has been preparing to hold underground atomic tests to increase its nuclear arsenal.
Iran is not the only ally that North Korea is cooperating with in the Middle East. In late October it was revealed that North Korean pilots had been recruited to man attack helicopters in Syria for Bashar Assad's regime.