North Korea Strengthening Ties With Iran: ‘Tehran and Pyongyang Have a Common Enemy’

Patrick Goodenough | August 9, 2017 | 3:32am EDT
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Kim Yong-nam, chairman of the Supreme Assembly of North Korea, meets with Iranian President Hasan Rouhani in Tehran. (Photo: IRNA)

( – North Korea’s provocative actions and belligerent rhetoric directed at the United States come at a time when the Stalinist regime is strengthening ties with another government hostile towards the U.S., building on decades of missile and nuclear program collaboration.

Pyongyang’s second most-senior leader, Kim Yong-nam, attended re-elected Iranian President Hasan Rouhani’s  inauguration ceremony at the weekend, and at meetings with senior Iranian officials the two regimes praised each other for standing up to the U.S.

North Korea also inaugurated a new embassy in Tehran. The Trump administration has been urging countries to downgrade or suspend their diplomatic ties with Pyongyang over its missile launches.

In its account of a meeting between Kim and parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, the Mehr news agency quoted Larijani as saying North Korea had “shown praiseworthy resistance against U.S. bullying.”

The North Korean official – who is chairman of the Supreme Assembly of North Korea – had in turn declared that “Tehran and Pyongyang have a common enemy.”

Kim also backed Iran’s right to launch ballistic missiles, in the face of Western criticism.

 “The Islamic Republic of Iran has stated that no authorization is required for the building and firing of missiles, and we support this strong position,” Mehr quoted Kim as saying.

“He said North Korea will not abandon its national interests and urged the U.S. to stop its hostile policies to North Korea,” the news agency continued.

“He underlined that countries make their own destiny by relying on their power, and no state should surrender to excessive powers, because it has been proven that the United States has invaded countries that are weak in terms of military power.”

“Time and date will pass and change, but our common enemy will not change at all, and the United States continues to its bullying policies,” it quoted him as saying.

Kim called for a deepening of relations with Iran, to serve both countries’ interests.

When he met with Kim, Rouhani said Iran’s excellent ties with North Korea would continue, adding that all nations should be treated with respect and that “interference in other countries’ internal affairs” was wrong.

The inauguration of Pyongyang’s new embassy in Iran was attended by North Korean vice foreign minister Choe Hui-chol and Iranian vice foreign minister Ebrahim Rahimpour, according to a report by North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun.

Choe in a speech extolled strategic relations between the two governments’ leaders in their “common struggle for independence against imperialism.”

In his remarks, Rahimpour said the Iranian people remember North Korea’s “sincere help and solidarity” when Iran faced hard times, and would in turn “fully support the struggle of the Korean people at all times,” the report said.

A photo released by the North Korean regime’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper on February 13, 2017 purportedly shows Kim Jong-un observing a medium-range ballistic missile being launched two days earlier. (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Missile collaboration

Iran and North Korea have both drawn condemnation for their ballistic missile programs and tests.

The two have been collaborating in missile development since at least the early 1990s. Experts from each country have observed missile launches in the other, and weapons specialists have long reported on similarities between Iranian and North Korean ballistic missiles.

Among individuals targeted in U.S. sanctions for their role in ballistic missile procurement for Iran is an Iranian who the U.S. Treasury Department has linked to shipments from North Korea of “equipment suitable for use in ground testing of liquid propellant ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles.”

A 2011 report by a U.N. panel on North Korea raised concern about Iran-North Korea missile cooperation that would violate multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.

“Prohibited ballistic missile-related items are suspected to have been transferred between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran on regular scheduled flights of [North Korean flag carrier] Air Koryo and Iran Air, with trans-shipment through a neighboring third country,” the report said.

(The “third country” was said by diplomats at the time to be China, which sought to block release of the U.N. report.)

In 2015 the exiled opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) claimed that North Korean nuclear warhead experts were secretly visiting Iran, and that Iranian officials involved in nuclear and missile-related activities were also visiting North Korea regularly.

Another NCRI report, last June, claimed that Iran has established missile facilities based on North Korean models, with the help of visiting North Korean experts.

“These North Korean experts who were sent to Iran, trained the main IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] missile experts in IRGC garrisons, including the Almehdi Garrison situated southwest of Tehran,” the report said.

NCRI claimed the North Korean experts have been involved in helping the IRGC to develop warhead and guidance systems for its missiles.

In its annual assessment of worldwide threats, the intellligence community told U.S. lawmakers last May that “North Korea’s export of ballistic missiles and associated materials to several countries, including Iran” was an illustration of “its willingness to proliferate dangerous technologies.”

See also:

Iran’s Extensive Missile Facilities, Collaboration With North Korea, Highlighted in New Report (June 21, 2017)

State Dep’t: Claims of Iran-North Korean Nuclear Cooperation Won’t Impact Talks (May 29, 2015)

Missile Collaboration: Iran Has the Technology, N. Korea Has the Uranium Enrichment (July 22, 2011)

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