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An Iranian Guest at North Korean Nuclear Test

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, Iran’s nuclear chief, was reportedly there

Adam Chandler
February 19, 2013
Site of Last Week's North Korean Nuclear Test(Google Earth)
Site of Last Week's North Korean Nuclear Test(Google Earth)

On Valentine’s Day, Lee Smith made the chilling assertion that North Korea’s nuclear test last week, given its intensely cooperative relationship with Iran, signaled that Iran also has the bomb. He wrote:

If this sounds hyperbolic, consider the history of extensive North Korean-Iranian cooperation on a host of military and defense issues, including ballistic missiles and nuclear development, that dates back to the 1980s. This cooperation includes North Korean sales of technology and arms, like the BM-25, a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and reaching Western Europe; Iran’s Shahab 3 missile is based on North Korea’s Nodong-1 and is able to reach Israel. Iran has a contigent of Iranian weapons engineers and defense officials stationed in North Korea. Meantime, North Korean scientists visit Iran. And last fall, both countries signed a memorandum of understanding regarding scientific, academic, and technological issues.

Over the weekend it was reported by several sites that last week’s North Korean test had a special guest in attendance: Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, the so-called “father” of Iran’s nuclear program.
The plot thickens:

According to the sources, Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi was responsible for the development of a warhead “small enough to fit on to one of the ballistic missiles developed by Iran from North Korean prototypes,” the report stated.

North Korea said its test on Tuesday had “greater explosive force” than the 2006 and 2009 tests, which were widely seen as small-scale.

The report echoes comments made earlier in the week by a security expert that the nuclear test may have also been carried out on behalf of Iran, and in the presence of Iranian atomic scientists.

This may also explain why Iran was on a charm offensive last week.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.