Iran and North Korea Resumed Cooperation on Missiles, UN Says
An impersonator of North Korean leader Kim Jung Un holds a plastic blow-up missile. (Photographer: Chan Long Hei/Bloomberg)

Iran and North Korea Resumed Cooperation on Missiles, UN Says

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Iran and North Korea cooperated on long-range missile development projects last year, according to a confidential United Nations report that may pressure the Biden administration to respond to one of its first major geopolitical crises.

“This resumed cooperation is said to have included the transfer of critical parts, with the most recent shipment associated with this relationship taking place in 2020,” an independent panel of experts monitoring sanctions on North Korea said in the report, citing a member state.

Frequently on the fringes of international diplomacy, North Korea and Iran have long had a secretive, mutually beneficial relationship. The UN panel received information showing that Iran’s Shahid Haj Ali Movahed Research Center received “support and assistance” from North Korean missile specialists for a space launch vehicle, and that North Korea was involved in certain shipments to Iran.

It wasn’t immediately clear what was in those shipments or how significant the cooperation was for either nation. But renewed cooperation between Iran and North Korea would likely represent a shortcoming of the Trump administration’s pressure campaign against both countries, as well as prompt the Biden administration to accelerate its strategy toward two nations it views as state sponsors of terror.

In response to the allegations, Iran told the panel members that a “preliminary review of the information provided to us by the panel indicates that false information and fabricated data may have been used in investigations and analyzes of the panel,” according to the report, which was seen by Bloomberg.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the administration is reviewing former President Donald Trump’s diplomacy toward North Korea. He’s also said that Iran has to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal the Trump administration withdrew from before the U.S. considers sanctions relief against Tehran.

Kim Shows Off Huge Mobile Missile

Kim Jong Un’s regime has rolled out several new models of ballistic missiles in recent months that are either bigger and more powerful or easier to move and fire. At an October military parade in Pyongyang, he debuted a huge ICBM that appeared to be the world’s largest road-mobile missile and capable of carrying multiple warheads.

The panel cited an assessment by a member state that “it is highly likely that a nuclear device can be mounted on the ICBMs, and it is also likely that a nuclear device can be mounted on,” the shorter range missiles. “The member state, however, stated it is uncertain whether the DPRK had developed ballistic missiles resistant to the heat generated during re-entry,” the panel said, referring to the official name of North Korea.

The panel also looked into the drones displayed by North Korea during the October parade, identifying them as a “Mavic 2 Pro type” manufactured by China’s SZ DJI Technology Co. Ltd. The company has “yet to respond to the panel’s inquiry,” the panel added.

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