Iranian collaboration with North Korea on a new rocket booster for long-range missiles undermines the recent deal with Tehran on its nuclear program, key Senate and House Republicans said on Tuesday, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
“While the president was undertaking his secret negotiations—which Congress wasn’t informed of—he had to know Iran and North Korea were testing new engines for ballistic missiles to target the United States,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.) chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces.
“Every day the president’s deal looks worse and worse,” Rogers said in response to a report Tuesday revealing that Iran is covertly working with North Korea on a new 80-ton rocket booster that can be used in both nations’ long-range missile programs.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) also criticized the P5+1 countries’ Iran nuclear deal for not addressing the threat of Iran’s ICBM program.
“The Iranian regime is clearly demonstrating through word and deed that they have no intention of moderating the behavior that earned them one of the harshest international programs of economic sanctions on record,” Cruz told the Washington Free Beacon. “Relaxing the sanctions now only encourages them to continue their pursuit of nuclear weapons–and the means to deliver them to Israel, Europe and even the United States. I hope President Obama and Secretary [of State John] Kerry will reconsider this dangerous policy and add the immediate cessation of their ICBM program to the list of prerequisites placed on Iran before any additional negotiations take place.”
Claude Chafin, a spokesman for House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, also voiced concern over reports of Iran-North Korea missile cooperation.
“Without a comprehensive deal to limit the Iranian ballistic missile program, and eliminate their ability to enrich uranium, the pieces are falling into place for both the Iranians and the North Koreans to threaten the United States with nuclear-tipped ICBMs,” Chafin said in an email to the Washington Free Beacon.
Chafin said the cooperation increases the threat to the United States because both Pyongyang and Tehran share missile technology. “It is reasonable to assume that North Korean missile capabilities are peer to Iranian missile capabilities,” he said.
U.S. officials said the new booster could be used on both a space launcher and a long-range missile. Iran and North Korea are believed by U.S. intelligence agencies to be using their space programs to mask long-range missile development.
Officials said the covert missile cooperation indicates the Iranians are continuing to build long-range strategic missiles that can be used to deliver nuclear warheads at the same time they are negotiating limits on illicit uranium enrichment. Intelligence assessments have said that both countries could test a missile capable of reaching the United States with a nuclear warhead within the next two years.