Archive for the ‘Iran – North Korea axis’ category

Iran warns North Korea: Trump could cancel deal before getting home

June 12, 2018

By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin June 15, 2018 via World News

Source Link: Iran warns North Korea: Trump could cancel deal before getting home

{Patience, Iran. Trump will get to you shortly. – LS}

LONDON (Reuters) – Iran warned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday against trusting U.S. President Donald Trump, saying he could cancel their denuclearization agreement within hours.

Tehran cited its own experience in offering the advice to Kim a month after Washington withdrew from a similar deal with Iran.

Trump and Kim pledged at a meeting in Singapore on Tuesday to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula while Washington committed to provide security guarantees for its old enemy.

“We don’t know what type of person the North Korean leader is negotiating with. It is not clear that he would not cancel the agreement before returning home,” Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht was quoted as saying by IRNA new agency.

Nobakht questioned Trump’s credibility. “This man does not represent the American people, and they will surely distance themselves from him at the next elections,” he said.

 As well as pulling the United States out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Trump disowned on Saturday a joint communique issued by Group of Seven leaders, just hours after he had left their summit for the meeting with Kim.

Trump has said would be open to striking a new nuclear accord with Tehran. However, he says the existing deal negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama had failed to address Iran’s ballistic missile program.

On top of this, he also cited the terms under which international inspectors can visit suspect Iranian nuclear sites and “sunset” clauses, under which limits on the nuclear program start to expire after 10 years.

Trump has insisted any deal with North Korea should include irreversible and verifiable denuclearization.

An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman also advised North Korean leaders on Monday to “exercise complete vigilance” in their negotiations with the United States.

“We are not optimistic about these talks … The United States, especially Mr Trump, has undermined international agreements and has unilaterally withdrawn from them,” Bahram Qasemi said.

Trump has also decided to pull the United States out of the Paris climate change accord.

Washington will reimpose a wide array of Iran-related sanctions after the expiry of 90- and 180-day wind-down periods, including measures aimed at the oil sector and transactions with its central bank.

Other remaining signatories of the deal – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia- have criticized the U.S. exit and are still trying to salvage the accord.

 

A Slow Death for the Iran Deal

October 16, 2017

A Slow Death for the Iran Deal, Gatestone InstituteJohn R. Bolton, October 16, 2017

The JCPOA is also packed with provisions that have never received adequate scrutiny. Take Annex III, which envisages full-scale assistance to, and cooperation with, Iran’s “peaceful” civil nuclear efforts. Annex III contemplates facilitating Iran’s acquisition of “state of the art” light-water reactors, broader nuclear-research programs, and, stunningly, protection against “nuclear security threats” to Iran’s nuclear program.

It sounds suspiciously like the Clinton administration’s failed Agreed Framework with North Korea. Many Clinton alumni were part of Mr. Obama’s Iran negotiation team. In Washington, nothing succeeds like failure. Mr. Trump and his congressional supporters should expressly repudiate Annex III and insist that Europe, Russia and China do the same.

The Iran nuclear deal, which Mr. Trump has excoriated repeatedly, is hanging by an unraveling thread. Congress won’t improve it. American and European businesses proceed at their own peril on trade or investment with Iran. The deal should have died last week and will breathe its last shortly.

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As Abba Eban observed, “Men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources.” So it goes with America and the Iran deal. President Trump announced Friday that the U.S. would stay in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), even while he refused to certify under U.S. law that the deal is in the national interest. “Decertification,” a bright, shiny object for many, obscures the real issue — whether the agreement should survive. Mr. Trump has “scotch’d the snake, not kill’d it.”

While Congress considers how to respond — or, more likely, not respond — we should focus on the grave threats inherent in the deal. Peripheral issues have often dominated the debate; forests have been felled arguing over whether Iran has complied with the deal’s terms. Proposed “fixes” now abound, such as a suggestion to eliminate the sunset provisions on the deal’s core provisions.

The core provisions are the central danger. There are no real “fixes” to this intrinsically misconceived agreement. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which Iran is a party, has never included sunset clauses, but the mullahs have been violating it for decades.

If the U.S. left the JCPOA, it would not need to justify the decision by showing that the Iranians have exceeded the deal’s limits on uranium enrichment (though they have). Many argued Russia was not violating the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (though it likely was) when President Bush gave notice of withdrawal in 2001, but that was not the point. The issue was whether the ABM Treaty remained strategically wise for America. So too for the Iran deal. It is neither dishonorable nor unusual for countries to withdraw from international agreements that contravene their vital interests. As Charles de Gaulle put it, treaties “are like girls and roses; they last while they last.”

Pictured: A uranium conversion facility just outside the city of Isfahan, Iran, used as part of Iran’s uranium enrichment process. (Photo by Getty Images)

When Germany, Britain and France began nuclear negotiations with Iran in 2003, they insisted that their objective was to block the mullahs from the nuclear fuel cycle’s “front end” (uranium enrichment) as well as its “back end” (plutonium reprocessing from spent fuel). They assured Washington that Tehran would be limited to “peaceful” nuclear applications like medicine and electricity generation. Nuclear-fuel supplies and the timely removal of spent fuel from Iran’s “peaceful” reactors would be covered by international guaranties.

So firm were the Europeans that they would not even negotiate unless Iran agreed to suspend all enrichment-related activity. Under these conditions, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell agreed their effort could proceed. Today, JCPOA advocates conveniently ignore how much Barack Obama and the Europeans conceded to Iran’s insistence that it would never give up uranium enrichment.

The West’s collapse was a grave error. Regardless of JCPOA limits, Iran benefits from continued enrichment, research and development by expanding the numbers of scientists and technicians it has with firsthand nuclear experience. All this will be invaluable to the ayatollahs come the day they disdain any longer to conceal their real nuclear strategy.

Congress’s ill-advised “fixes” would only make things worse. Sens. Bob Corker and Tom Cotton suggest automatically reimposing sanctions if Iran gets within a year of having nuclear weapons. That’s a naive and dangerous proposal: Iran is already within days of having nuclear weapons, given that it can buy them from North Korea. On the deal’s first anniversary, Mr. Obama said that “Iran’s breakout time has been extended from two to three months to about a year.” At best, Corker-Cotton would codify Mr. Obama’s ephemeral and inaccurate propaganda without constraining Iran.

Such triggering mechanisms assume the U.S. enjoys complete certainty and comprehensive knowledge of every aspect of Iran’s nuclear program. In reality, there is serious risk Tehran will evade the intelligence and inspection efforts, and we will find out too late Tehran already possesses nuclear weapons.

The unanswerable reality is that economic sanctions have never stopped a relentless regime from getting the bomb. That is the most frightening lesson of 25 years of failure in dealing with Iran and North Korea. Colin Powell told me he once advised British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw: “Jack, if you want to bring the Iranians around, you have to hold an ax over their heads.” The new proposals aren’t even a dull razor blade.

The JCPOA is also packed with provisions that have never received adequate scrutiny. Take Annex III, which envisages full-scale assistance to, and cooperation with, Iran’s “peaceful” civil nuclear efforts. Annex III contemplates facilitating Iran’s acquisition of “state of the art” light-water reactors, broader nuclear-research programs, and, stunningly, protection against “nuclear security threats” to Iran’s nuclear program.

It sounds suspiciously like the Clinton administration’s failed Agreed Framework with North Korea. Many Clinton alumni were part of Mr. Obama’s Iran negotiation team. In Washington, nothing succeeds like failure. Mr. Trump and his congressional supporters should expressly repudiate Annex III and insist that Europe, Russia and China do the same.

The Iran nuclear deal, which Mr. Trump has excoriated repeatedly, is hanging by an unraveling thread. Congress won’t improve it. American and European businesses proceed at their own peril on trade or investment with Iran. The deal should have died last week and will breathe its last shortly.

John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad”.

This article first appeared in The Wall Street Journal and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.

Joe Lieberman: “North Korea And Iran Are An Alliance Of Evil Aimed At The United States”

October 15, 2017

Joe Lieberman: “North Korea And Iran Are An Alliance Of Evil Aimed At The United States”, Real Clear PoliticsTim Hains, October 15, 2017

(The remarks of former senator and Democrat VP candidate Liberman are right on point. — DM)

 

“The extent to which Iran and North Korea are working together is the only question. It is not whether they are working together, it is how much they are working together,” he explained. “We know that North Korean designs for intercontinental ballistic missiles have been reflected in the intercontinental ballistic missiles Iran has put up.”

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‘United Against Nuclear Iran’ chairman Joe Lieberman joins FNC’s Maria Bartiromo to discuss the president’s choice to leave the Iran nuclear deal up to Congress and the extent to which North Korea and Iran are working together. 

“I think the president made the right decision, he did it in the right way,” the former Democratic vice presidential candidate said. “He could have withdrawn from the whole thing the other day.”

“He basically said to Congress and our allies, and the Iranians, we’re going to pull out of this agreement unless it changes… One, we’re asking the Iranians to agree not to develop nuclear weapons. That was the whole purpose of the sanctions, and the deal only puts a pause, saying that in eight or ten years they can start doing things that will allow you to build nuclear weapons again.”

“The Supreme Leader in Iran says he doesn’t want to build nuclear weapons anyway,” Lieberman said. “Let’s make that happen.”

“Second, how can you have an agreement you have any trust in on something this important? If you can’t really inspect the military sites where they would be cheating if they were cheating… And this Iranian regime has a bad record of cheating an awful lot on agreements.”

“The extent to which Iran and North Korea are working together is the only question. It is not whether they are working together, it is how much they are working together,” he explained. “We know that North Korean designs for intercontinental ballistic missiles have been reflected in the intercontinental ballistic missiles Iran has put up.”

North Korea Nuclear Progress Puts Iran on Renewed Pathway to Bomb

September 4, 2017

North Korea Nuclear Progress Puts Iran on Renewed Pathway to Bomb, Washington Free Beacon, September 4, 2017

North Korea’s intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 lifts off / Getty Images

Iran and North Korea have been sharing nuclear materials and know-how for well over a decade, according to sensitive intelligence community communications published by WikiLeaks and dating as far back as 2009.

The Obama administration took little action during its time in office to thwart this growing alliance, leading to increased nuclear ties between Iran and North Korea, multiple sources said.

In order to comply with the nuclear agreement, Iran outsourced much of its nuclear technology to North Korea, according to multiple sources, who pointed to evidence of a key 2015 meeting between the two countries surrounding the nuclear portfolio.

“Thanks to the Obama-Khamenei nuclear deal, Iran is flush with cash and has the capacity to be a willing buyer for nuclear material,” DeSantis said. “This represents a major threat to the United States and should be taken seriously.”

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U.S. officials are closely monitoring an ongoing meeting between senior North Korean and Iranian officials that comes on the heels of a nuclear test by Pyongyang, according to senior Trump administration officials and other sources who expressed concern that North Korea is helping to put the Islamic Republic back on the pathway to a functional nuclear weapon.

Sources told the Washington Free Beacon that Pyongyang continues to stockpile illicit nuclear material on Iran’s behalf in order to help the Islamic Republic skirt restrictions implemented under the landmark nuclear deal.

North Korea’s latest nuclear test of a hydrogen bomb has roiled Trump administration officials and led President Donald Trump to consider multiple options for war. However, it also has renewed fears among U.S. officials and foreign policy insiders about Pyongyang’s long-standing relationship with Iran, which centers on providing the Islamic Republic with nuclear technology and know-how.

The head of North Korea’s parliament arrived this weekend in Iran for a 10-day visit aimed at boosting ties between the two countries amid an international crackdown on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, a situation U.S. officials tell the Free Beacon is being closely monitored.

As North Korea makes progress in its nuclear pursuits, it is likely this information is being shared with senior Iranian officials who continue to maintain and build upon the country’s weapons program, despite the nuclear agreement, which only limits a portion of Iran’s nuclear enrichment and research abilities.

One senior U.S. official currently handling the Iranian and North Korean nuclear portfolios told the Free Beacon that the collaboration between these two countries is being closely monitored by the Trump administration, which will not hesitate to take action to disrupt this relationship.

“The history of collaboration between North Korea and Iran has been an ongoing concern and needs to be watched closely,” the official told the Free Beacon. “We’ve been laboring under the false assumption that these oppressive regimes are rational and that we can persuade them to act for the greater good. President Trump has made it clear those days are at an end, and that the United States will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from turning into another North Korea.”

Iran and North Korea have long collaborated on their missile programs and nuclear technology, and the U.S. intelligence community continues to monitor ongoing efforts by the two countries to boost cooperation.

Kim Yong Nam, the head of North Korea’s parliament, reportedly arrived in Iran on Thursday for a high-profile meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that is likely to center around Tehran’s quest for technology and North Korea’s need for hard currency and financial assets.

Iran has been flush with cash and other financial assets since the nuclear agreement lifted international sanctions and opened the Islamic Republic to new business ties.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the National Security Subcommittee, told the Free Beacon that the increased ties are cause for concern, particularly in light of Iran’s renewed economic success.

“Given that Kim Jong Un is a plump, immature kid who only rules because of accident of birth, it is not clear that he can, through traditional means, be deterred from commencing an attack against the United States using his nuclear arsenal,” DeSantis told the Free Beacon. “What is completely clear is that Kim is willing to transfer nuclear technology to, and assist with nuclear development for, rogue regimes such as Iran.”

“Thanks to the Obama-Khamenei nuclear deal, Iran is flush with cash and has the capacity to be a willing buyer for nuclear material,” DeSantis said. “This represents a major threat to the United States and should be taken seriously.”

North Korea’s latest nuclear test has sparked a fierce war of words with the Trump administration, which announced on Monday that it is considering a range of military options.

United Nation’s Ambassador Nikki Halley said that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is “begging for war” and urged the U.N.’s Security Council to consider a strong response.

“Enough is enough,” Haley was quoted as saying. “War is never something the United States wants. We don’t want it now. But our country’s patience is not unlimited.”

Israeli officials also have warned that North Korea’s latest test is a boon to Iran’s own nuclear program.

“The international response, led by the U.S., to the North Korean regime’s provocations, sheds light on how it will behave toward the Iranian regime on their nuclear efforts in the near future,” Moshe Ya’alon, a former Israeli defense minister, tweeted. “Although the nuclear test is not our issue, the tension should concern us.”

Iran and North Korea have been sharing nuclear materials and know-how for well over a decade, according to sensitive intelligence community communications published by WikiLeaks and dating as far back as 2009.

The Obama administration took little action during its time in office to thwart this growing alliance, leading to increased nuclear ties between Iran and North Korea, multiple sources said.

In order to comply with the nuclear agreement, Iran outsourced much of its nuclear technology to North Korea, according to multiple sources, who pointed to evidence of a key 2015 meeting between the two countries surrounding the nuclear portfolio.

Iran also has opened ballistic missile factories in Syria with the help of Russia and North Korea, according to regional reports.

“North Korea and Iran’s military and political ties are long-standing, and can be traced back to the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, the same time that Tehran developed an interest in nuclear and missile technology,” said Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“North Korea’s provision of the Nodong-A liquid fueled medium-range ballistic missile to Iran in the 1990s enabled the mullahs to make significant strides in the missile program and eventually even their satellite launch-vehicle technology,” Ben Taleblu explained.

“While some may see the long-standing missile relationship as merely evidence of the two countries’ interest in conventional munitions, these missiles are capable of carrying nuclear payloads, and offer both rogues the ultimate deterrent weapon with which to ensure regime survival,” he said.

Iranian officials and scientists have been spotted at several of North Korea’s key nuclear test, fueling speculation that the two countries are in close contact on the issue.

“What is almost certain, however, is the following: both in the post- and pre-JCPOA [or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the Iran deal] era, the two closely watched how each one negotiated with the international community, what deals it struck, the lies that worked and didn’t work, and where and how it could supplement resolve for material capability,” Ben Taleblu said.

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, further told the Free Beaconthat it is suspected North Korean officials played a role in helping Iran recently test fire a series of ballistic missiles, which sparked international outrage and accusations the Islamic Republic is violating legally binding bans on such behavior.

“For those who want to deny the links between Pyongyang and Tehran, it’s easy so long as they ignore their military, diplomatic, and economic ties,” Rubin said. “It’s doubtful there has been a single Iranian missile test where North Korean scientists weren’t present, nor a North Korean test where Iranian scientists didn’t have a front row seat.”

One veteran congressional foreign policy adviser who works on the Iran portfolio told the Free Beacon that efforts to promote a new North Korean nuclear deal in the same vein as the Iran agreement are fruitless, and would only strengthen Pyongyang’s appetite to publicly test its nuclear weaponry.

“The same people who sold the Iran deal are now trying to sell what they call an ‘Iran deal for North Korea,'” the source said. “It’s the same groups, the same people, and the same playbook. Up until this weekend’s nuclear test, they were telling journalists that diplomacy has time to work, that North Korea is still years away from an H-Bomb, and—of course—that additional pressure would lead to war.”

“Now, all at once, their narratives about Iran and North Korea are both colliding with reality,” the source added. “The cost for American national security is staggering.”

Rubin went on to describe the North Korean stand-off as a glimpse into future situations with Iran.

“North Korea is a crystal ball into the future of the Iranian nuclear agreement, and the current diplomatic behavior in which there will be no support for inspections, which risk finding Iran in violation and imperiling the agreement, fits the pattern to a ‘T,'” Rubin said. “In addition, one of the biggest holes to which the Obama administration agreed was not recognizing that Iranian nuclear work doesn’t necessarily take place in Iran.”

Iran gets North Korean expertise in building up, testing and hiding its ballistic missiles

June 21, 2017

Iran gets North Korean expertise in building up, testing and hiding its ballistic missiles, Washington Times

(The North Korea – Iran nuclear/missile axis has been active for years. Why not? Iran has lots of money courtesy of Obama’s Iran Scam and North Korea has technology that Iran wants. Iran is also likely pleased that the threat of North Korean nuke-laden missiles may be diverting attention from the dangers posed by Iran. — DM)

Iranian dissidents have documented work at 42 missile centers operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the regime’s dominant security force. A dozen of those sites had never been disclosed before. (Associated Press/File)

Iran has increased production and testing of ballistic missiles since the 2015 nuclear deal with the U.S. while playing permanent host to scientists from North Korea, which has the know-how to build and launch atomic weapons, a leading Iranian opposition group said Tuesday.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran issued a white paper that the dissidents say identifies and documents work at 42 missile centers operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the regime’s dominant security force.

A dozen sites had never been disclosed before, said the council, which operates a spy network that has exposed Iran’s hidden nuclear program.

Tehran views expertise from North Korea as being so critical that it has established residences in Tehran for Pyongyang’s scientists and technicians, according to the white paper. North Koreans have shown Iran how to dig tunnels and build “missile cities” deep inside mountains to prevent destruction by airstrikes, among other projects.

“On the basis of specific intelligence, the IRGC’s missile sites have been created based on North Korean models and blueprints,” the white paper said. “North Korean experts have helped the Iranian regime to build them. Underground facilities and tunnels to produce, store, and maintain missiles have also been modeled after North Korean sites and were created with the collaboration of the North Korean experts.”

Iranians also are traveling to North Korea, which uses occasional missile test-firings to rattle its neighbors South Korea and Japan, two strong U.S. allies.

“In the context of these trainings and relations, delegations of the IRGC’s aerospace constantly travel to North Korea and exchange knowledge, information and achievements with North Korean specialists,” the report said. “North Korea’s experts constantly travel to Iran while the IRGC’s missile experts visit North Korea.”

President Trump has been harshly critical of the 2015 deal struck by the Obama administration and five international allies to lift economic sanctions and other financial penalties in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear weapons programs, but has said he will stick with the accord for now while closely monitoring Tehran’s adherence to the deal.

Iran’s leaders say they have yet to see all the benefits promised with the lifting of sanctions.

But even supporters of the Obama deal say there has been little sign that Iran’s Islamic Republic has moderated its behavior on other fronts, including the series of ballistic missile tests in recent months that some argue violate U.N. sanctions. U.S. officials also say Iran continues to back terror groups and foment instability in regional hot spots such as Syria and Yemen.

At a press conference Tuesday, Alireza Jafarzadeh, the council’s deputy director in Washington, displayed satellite photos that he said clearly show trademark North Korean mountain entrances to “cities” that hold hundreds of missiles.

He said the regime reorganized the IRGC Aerospace Force to focus almost exclusively on missile production and testing rather than aircraft.

“It’s not by accident,” Mr. Jafarzadeh said. “It’s part of their overall strategy.”

He said a huge missile arsenal allows the ruling Shiite mullahs to intimidate Sunni Muslim neighbors such as rival Saudi Arabia. In addition, missiles provide a delivery system for the nuclear weapons that the regime plans to build once the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, expires in less than 10 years.

“We’re racing against the clock,” he said.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran held a press conference in Washington in April to present evidence that Tehran’s harsh Islamic regime is cheating on the nuclear deal by continuing secret work on atomic bomb components. The Trump administration recently certified that the Islamic republic is living up to its obligations in the deal, which restricts Tehran’s production of only nuclear material, not missiles.

The council’s report pays close attention to the Semnan missile center, a complex of storage facilities and launching pads for medium-range ballistic missiles in north-central Iran. It is here, the white paper says, that Iran melds missile work with nuclear research conducted by the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, known by the Persian acronym SPND.

The council first disclosed SPND’s existence in 2011. In 2014, the Obama administration imposed sanctions on SPND for conducting illicit work not allowed at by the pending nuclear deal.

“The Semnan center for missile projects has been much more active after the JCPOA,” a council official said. “The speed and scope of activities and research in Semnan has increased significantly in this period and the exchanges and traffic between SPND.”

Iran has flouted U.N. resolutions repeatedly by test-firing ballistic missiles. In February, the nonprofit Foundation for Defense of Democracies put the number at 14 since the nuclear deal was signed in July 2015. Since then, Iran has conducted at least two more tests.

On Sunday, Iran for the first time since 2001 fired an operational missile outside its boundaries, targeting an Islamic State-controlled town in eastern Syria. Tehran said the ground-to-ground missile strike was retaliation for the Islamic State’s June 7 terrorist attack on the Iranian parliament. In 2001, the regime fired missiles on resistance targets in Iraq.

Iran owns one of the world’s largest inventories of ballistic missiles. GlobalSecurity.org lists more than a dozen different short- and medium-range Iranian missiles, some of which closely resemble North Korea’s Nodong arsenal.

Tehran this year announced the launch of the Emad, which has a range of 1,000 miles. It said the test marked a first for an Iranian precision-guided ballistic missile.

More than ever, the resistance council said, Iran’s religious leaders see missiles as instrumental to their survival strategy.

“The Iranian regime has remained in power in Iran by relying on two pillars: internal repression and external export of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism,” the council said. “Its illicit nuclear weapons program and its continued expansion of ballistic missiles serve its policy of export of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism.”

Further Evidence of Iran-North Korea Military Connection

May 6, 2017

Further Evidence of Iran-North Korea Military Connection, Iran Focus, May 5, 2017

London, 5 May – Pentagon officials saw more evidence of North Korea’s assistance when Iran tried to launch a cruise missile from a midget submarine earlier this week. Intelligence reports claim the submarine was the same type that sank a South Korean warship in 2010, which was Pyongyang designed.

This was the first time Iran attempted to launch a Jask-2 cruise missile underwater, but the launch failed, according to U.S. defense officials. That North Korea and Iran are sharing expertise when it comes to their rogue missile programs has been long suspected by nonproliferation experts.

Perhaps most worrisome for the United States is that this occurred in the narrow and crowded Strait of Hormuz, where much of the world’s oil passes each day.

Jeffrey Lewis, a missile proliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey said, “The very first missiles we saw in Iran were simply copies of North Korean missiles, over the years, we’ve seen photographs of North Korean and Iranian officials in each other’s countries, and we’ve seen all kinds of common hardware.”

“In the past, we would see things in North Korea and they would show up in Iran. In some recent years, we’ve seen some small things appear in Iran first and then show up in North Korea and so that raises the question of whether trade — which started off as North Korea to Iran — has started to reverse,” Lewis added.

The ballistic missile Iran tested in late January was based on a North Korean design, the Pentagon said. Another missile launch conducted by Iran last summer, was similar to the most advanced missile Pyongyang has successfully tested to date, a North Korean Musudan.

North Korea’s Taepodong missile looks almost identical to Iran’s Shahab, according to defense analysts.

North Korea successfully launched a missile from a submarine for the first time in 2015, and officials believe Tehran is not far behind.

North Korea and Iran are the only countries in the world who deploy the Yono-class submarine. Midget subs are used in shallow waters, where they can hide. The 290-foot South Korean warship that sank in 2010 and killed more than 40 sailors, was ambushed in shallow water by a midget sub. However, North Korea denies involvement in the attack.

A U.S. defense official who declined to be identified stated, “When those midget subs are operating underwater, they are running on battery power—making themselves very quiet and hard to detect.”

During testimony at the House Armed Services Committee late last month, Admiral Harry Harris, the head of American forces in the Pacific said, “We are being taken to the cleaners by countries that are not signatories to the INF.” Harris warned that because the U.S. is a signatory to the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, treaty signed in 1987 between Russia and the United States, the United States has no land-based short range or medium range missiles. Iran and North Korea are under no such constraints.

The BM-25 Musudan ballistic missile has a maximum range of nearly 2,500 miles, and potentially puts U.S. forces in the Middle East and Israel within reach, if its problems are fixed.

It’s unclear to what extent North Korea is involved in the failed launch, apart from sharing their technology, according to officials.

Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, tried to garner support for more United Nations sanctions against North Korea by hosting leaders from Southeast Asia in Washington on Thursday.

The White House put Iran “on notice” just days after Iran’s first ballistic missile test during the Trump administration.

Congress to Pass Fresh Sanctions on North Korea as Nuke Threat Hits Critical Stage

May 3, 2017

Congress to Pass Fresh Sanctions on North Korea as Nuke Threat Hits Critical Stage, Washington Free Beacon, , May 3, 2017

This April 15, 2017 picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 16, 2017 shows Korean People’s Army (KPA) soldiers marching through Kim Il-Sung square during a military parade in Pyongyang marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung.THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Congress is expected to level fresh economic sanctions on North Korea this week as the threat of the hermit nation’s capability to strike the U.S. with a nuclear missile continues to escalate, according to conversations with members of the congressional leadership who told the Washington Free Beacon that the Kim Jong Un regime could have a nuclear weapon capable of striking the United States in “only a few years.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) confirmed that he has scheduled a vote in the House on new sanctions that will target North Korea’s slave labor trade and its shipping industry, which plays a central role in ferrying illicit arms and technology to and from the country. North Korea is a major supplier of nuclear technology on the black market, particularly to Iran, which has mimicked Pyongyang’s nuclear playbook.

The new sanctions come as congressional leaders debate how to handle North Korea’s growing nuclear threat, which went largely unaddressed by the former Obama administration.

North Korea is expected to perfect a nuclear missile capable of striking the U.S. homeland in about four years time, according to congressional sources.

“The North Korean threat is escalating—in about four years, experts estimate that North Korea will have the capability to reliably hit the continental United States with a nuclear weapon,” McCarthy told the Free Beacon. “America must use every tool at our disposal to keep our nation safe and preserve peace.”

McCarthy said that new sanctions are long overdue and can more easily win approval now that former President Barack Obama is out of office.

“This week, we will vote to increase sanctions on North Korea, targeting its shipping industry as well as those who employ North Korean slave labor abroad,” the lawmaker said. “The last administration’s long-practiced policy of strategic patience has made us less safe. We must increase the pressure on the Kim regime.”

In just the past year, North Korea has conducted two nuclear weapons tests and at least 26 ballistic missile flight tests.

The new sanctions, codified under the Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act, has already garnered approval from the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is expected to easily pass when it comes before the full House for a vote. The bill will then be taken up for action by the Senate, which has an appetite for such a bill.

Lawmakers are moving forward with two other resolutions aimed at highlighting North Korea’s escalating nuclear progress.

One resolution formally condemns Pyongyang’s development of several intercontinental ballistic missiles, which violated multiple international laws on such behavior.

A second resolution requires the State Department to determine whether North Korea is a state sponsor of terrorism. Such a designation still has not been made, despite the country’s threatening behavior and multiple nuclear missile launches.

“It is not a matter of if, but when Kim Jong-Un will be brazen enough to attack one of our allies, or even the United States,” McCarthy said in a statement on the two resolutions. “We must be honest and forthright abroad, making clear that North Korea’s ballistic missile testing is unacceptable and that the Kim regime is worthy of sanctions as it is undoubtedly a state sponsor of terrorism.”

One senior congressional source who spoke to the Free Beacon about the issue said that the Obama administration’s policy of trying to wait out the threat has proven ineffective.

“The policy of strategic patience has allowed North Korea to charge full steam ahead in developing its nuclear program,” said the source, who requested anonymity to discuss congressional deliberations on the issue. “Doing nothing has only allowed North Korean provocations to increase. I think everyone recognizes that.”

“Now, North Korea is only a few years away from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear bomb,” the source said. “The best response is to increase pressure on the Kim regime, including with new sanctions, leaving all options on the table to preserve peace and end the threat of a nuclear North Korea.”