Posted tagged ‘Iran nuke inspections’

The Madness of King Barry (or not)

January 10, 2017

The Madness of King Barry (or not), Power Line, Scott Johnson, January 9, 2017 

If one hypothesized that President Obama’s object in entering into the JCPOA was to block Iran from acquiring a nuclear arsenal, one might conclude that the man is madder than King George III in the Regency Crisis. Indeed, so it seems, more evidence emerges every day to support the hypothesis. You begin to think you might be on to something.

In the alternative, one might hypothesize that President Obama seeks to facilitate and finance Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear arsenal, and to protect its program from disruption until such team as Iran seeks to go for it forthrightly. In this case, although one shrinks from the conclusion, Obama’s actions appear rationally calculated to achieve their objective.

Today’s news brings us additional evidence in the form of the AP exclusive reporting that Iran is to obtain a massive batch of natural uranium from Russia with the blessing of President Obama. The AP reports:

Two senior diplomats said the transfer recently agreed by the U.S. and five other world powers that negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran foresees delivery of 116 metric tons (nearly 130 tons) of natural uranium. U.N. Security Council approval is needed but a formality, considering five of those powers are permanent Security Council members, they said.

The AP helpfully explains:

Uranium can be enriched to levels ranging from reactor fuel or medical and research purposes to the core of an atomic bomb. Iran says it has no interest in such weapons and its activities are being closely monitored under the nuclear pact to make sure they remain peaceful.

Tehran already got a similar amount of natural uranium in 2015 as part of negotiations leading up to the nuclear deal, in a swap for enriched uranium it sent to Russia. But the new shipment will be the first such consignment since the deal came into force a year ago.

The AP adds this for those of us trying to sort out the madness or not of King Barry:

The natural uranium agreement comes at a sensitive time. With the incoming U.S. administration and many U.S. lawmakers already skeptical of how effective the nuclear deal is in keeping Iran’s nuclear program peaceful over the long term, they might view it as further evidence that Tehran is being given too many concessions.

The diplomats said any natural uranium transferred to Iran after the deal came into effect would be under strict surveillance by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency for 25 years after implementation of the deal.

Let me add: “…for 25 years after implementation of the deal or until such time as Iran chooses to pull the plug on the phony baloney JCPOA.”

Back to the diplomats speaking to the AP:

They said Tehran has not said what it would do with the uranium but could choose to store it or turn it into low-enriched uranium and then export it for use as reactor fuel.

Despite present restrictions on its enrichment program, the amount of natural uranium is significant should Iran decide to keep it in storage, considering its potential uses once some limits on Tehran’s nuclear activities start to expire in less than a decade.

Here the AP goes outside Obama’s circle of love for informed comment:

David Albright, whose Institute of Science and International Security often briefs U.S. lawmakers on Iran’s nuclear program, says the shipment could be enriched to enough weapons-grade uranium for more than 10 simple nuclear bombs, “depending on the efficiency of the enrichment process and the design of the nuclear weapon.”

Omri Ceren adds these comments by email (footnotes omitted):

The 2015 nuclear deal obligated Iran to keep no more than 130 metric tonnes of heavy water, a material used in the production of weapons-grade plutonium.

But the Iranians have continued to produce heavy water, and they exceeded the cap in February and November. The violations functionally blackmailing the Obama administration: either someone would purchase the excess heavy water, allowing Iran to literally profit from violating the deal, or the Iranians would go into formal noncompliance, endangering the deal.

After the Iranians violated the deal in February the Obama administration purchased the excess heavy water for $8.6 million. After they violated the deal in November State Department spokesperson Toner refused to call the overproduction a violation — “I’m not going to use the V word necessarily in this case” — and the Iranians eventually found someone else to purchase the excess.

The Associated Press just revealed that in addition to getting millions of dollars, the Iranians are also getting 116 metric tons of uranium in exchange for their heavy water. That’s enough for more than 10 nuclear bombs. The Obama administration has approved those terms [reported in the AP story]…

There are no diplomatic or technical reasons Iran needs to sell excess heavy water to avoid violating the deal: the Iranians could 1st, stop producing heavy water or 2nd, dump the excess in a river, since it’s just water. Obama officials have separately suggested that Iranian over-production is a win-win because there are shortages in the global market, but: there are no shortages, even if there were the Iranians are substandard suppliers, and using the Iranians may create actual shortages by kneecapping the existing legitimate suppliers.

We report, you decide.

Iran Vows Nuclear Retaliation for U.S. Breach of Deal

December 14, 2016

Iran Vows Nuclear Retaliation for U.S. Breach of Deal, Washington Free Beacon, , December 14, 2016

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a news briefing after his meeting with his Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor at the Saadabad palace in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani  (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

“But the Obama administration counted on Iran waiting until the next president before revealing the game, and the Iranians sprung the trap early,” the source added. “So now the administration will do everything it can to look the other way and get through the next few weeks, so they can blame the inevitable collapse on Trump.”

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Senior Iranian officials vowed on Wednesday to continue moving forward with nuclear weapons work and other banned activities as retaliation against the United States for breaching last year’s nuclear accord, according to reports in the country’s state-controlled media.

Iranian leaders instructed the country’s atomic energy organization to move forward with sensitive nuclear work, including the construction of nuclear-powered ships and submarines.

Further provocative actions will be announced in the coming days, according to these Iranian leaders, who described the country’s actions as revenge for recent moves by the U.S. Congress to extend sanctions on Iran, a move the Islamic Republic claims is a breach of the nuclear deal.

Iran’s latest moves have not elicited concern from Obama administration officials, who continue to pursue a series of measures meant to decrease international pressure on Tehran and provide it with greater financial resources.

“Considering that the US administration has ignored and delayed compliance with its undertakings under the [nuclear agreement] and given the recent extension of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) that had already been declared as a violation of the nuclear deal by the Islamic Republic of Iran… the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran is ordered to develop the country’s peaceful nuclear program within the framework of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s international undertakings as defined in the following missions,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wrote in a letter Tuesday to the country’s top nuclear agency.

Iran will move forward with a “plan for designing and building propulsion systems to be used in marine transportation in cooperation with scientific and research centers,” according to Rouhani’s letter.

It also will engage in the “production of fuel for nuclear propulsion systems,” Rouhani wrote.

This is the first in a range of responses planned by Tehran, according to Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior aide to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The renewed nuclear work is “the first but not the last measures to be taken by Iran,” Velayati was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Iran’s announcement did not draw a sharp response from Obama administration officials, who declined to say whether the nuclear work would constitute a breach of the deal.

“This announcement itself does not constitute a violation,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters. “I think there’s a lot we just don’t know. I mean, this announcement just got made. There’s a lot we don’t know about it and what it means. And so I think we’d have to reserve some judgment here about the degree to which this could present any kind of problem.”

Kirby expressed faith in international nuclear inspectors, telling reporters that they would likely catch a breach of the deal.

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert of rogue regimes, told the Washington Free Beacon that Iran is using the renewal of sanctions as an excuse to ramp up its illicit research activities

“The JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], which they have never officially signed, was a gift made possible by Obama’s ego and Kerry’s naiveté,” Rubin said. “If they disagree with the United States, they can follow a legal process to pursue that but the fact that they are having a temper tantrum shows their insincerity. Especially because no new sanctions have been applied to Iran. After all, the U.S. president can waive any sanctions so long as Iran complies with its commitments.”

One senior foreign policy consultant who has worked with Republican and Democratic offices in Congress on the issue told the Free Beacon that Iran always planned to breach the deal once it received promised economic relief.

“The Iran deal was deliberately structured to prevent American leaders from pressuring Iran. Kerry and his Iranian counterparts wrote the deal so that Iran would get most of the benefits immediately, so that they could blackmail American lawmakers by threatening to costlessly walk away, which is exactly what they’re doing,” the source said.

“But the Obama administration counted on Iran waiting until the next president before revealing the game, and the Iranians sprung the trap early,” the source added. “So now the administration will do everything it can to look the other way and get through the next few weeks, so they can blame the inevitable collapse on Trump.”

Will Team Trump Air Obama’s Iran Secrets?

November 21, 2016

Will Team Trump Air Obama’s Iran Secrets? Power Line, Paul Mirengoff, November 21, 2016

For years, Republicans and conservatives have charged that President Obama has shielded embarrassing intelligence and other information regarding Iran in order to limit opposition to the Iran nuclear deal and Obama’s conciliatory approach to Tehran. The charge seems well-founded. After all, it took Sens. Tom Cotton and Rep. Mike Pompeo to discover secret side agreements attached to the nuclear deal.

Eli Lake suggests that the Trump administration may well stop covering for the mullahs. Certainly, as Lake argues, Trump’s early high level personnel picks suggest so.

Trump’s nominee for CIA Director is none other than Mike Pompeo. Not only did he and Sen. Cotton uncover side deals to the nuclear agreement, he also pressed hard for answers about the cash payments the U.S. delivered to the mullahs in exchange for the release of hostages.

Pompeo wrote to Attorney General Lynch asking for answers as to how the cash payments were approved by the Justice Department. Lynch stonewalled him. Perhaps Jeff Sessions will be more cooperative.

Mike Flynn is the other key appointment for purposes of airing Obama’s Iran secrets. Lake points out that in 2011 General Flynn ran a team at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that reviewed the troves of material captured in the 2011 Osama bin Laden raid.

Under Obama, only a small fraction of these documents have been declassified and released. After he retired from the military, Flynn charged that the disclosures were selective.

Flynn noted, for example, that some documents captured in the bin Laden raid show a much tighter relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda than previously disclosed. In The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies (written with Micheal Ledeen), Flynn states: “One letter to bin Laden reveals that al-Qaeda was working on chemical and biological weapons in Iran.”

Given Obama’s desire to deal with Iran and, indeed, for a rapprochement, you can see why the administration shielded such intelligence. Given the well-deserved contempt by Pompeo and Flynn for Obama’s Iran policy, you can see why they might want relevant facts to come to light. As a general matter, these are facts the public has a right to know.

If such facts are made public, Obama won’t have much standing to complain. Lake reminds us:

Obama himself in 2008 campaigned against the sitting president’s policies on waterboarding and enhanced interrogation. One of the first things his government did when he took office was to declassify and release the legal memos that justified and revoked these practices.

It looks like the Republicans are about to return the favor.

Iran’s Nuke Program Confirmed

June 20, 2016

Iran’s Nuke Program Confirmed, Power LineSCOTT JOHNSON, June 20, 2016

Omri Ceren writes to comment on Jay Solomon’s page-one Wall Street Journal article“Uranium provides new clue on Iran’s past nuclear arms work.” I thought that readers who have been following the story of our partnership with, and funding of, the Islamic Republic of Iran would appreciate this update, provided by Omri with the usual footnotes.

Readers may recall Obama’s assertions at the time he announced the deal: “Because of this deal, inspectors will also be able to access any suspicious location. Put simply, the organization responsible for the inspections, the IAEA, will have access where necessary, when necessary. That arrangement is permanent. And the IAEA has also reached an agreement with Iran to get access that it needs to complete its investigation into the possible military dimensions of Iran’s past nuclear research.” These assertions are now revealed to be something less than the truth, not that you didn’t know that already:

The Obama administration is now admitting that Iran did nuclear weapons work at its military facility at Parchin, based on a December IAEA report that described two particles of man-made uranium at the site. But the evidence is too sparse to figure out what kind of work the Iranians were doing, just that they were doing some kind of nuclear weapons work:

Current and former U.S. officials asked about the uranium finding said the working assumption now is that it is tied to nuclear weapons development… “The existence of two particles of uranium there would be consistent with our understanding of the involvement of Parchin in a past weapons program, but by themselves don’t definitively prove anything,” said a senior administration official briefed on the evidence.

One reason the IAEA can’t determine what happened is because – as part of the nuclear deal – the U.S. collapsed on long-standing demands that the Iranians fully come clean on their past weapons work, the so-called possible military dimensions (PMDs) of their nuclear program. Instead the Iranians were allowed to deny the Agency access to top nuclear scientists and to self-inspect at Parchin, passing on soil samples from pre-selected locations. That wasn’t enough for the IAEA to make a determination:

Iran didn’t allow the agency to interview top nuclear scientists believed to have overseen nuclear weapons development… Iran did allow IAEA inspectors to collect soil samples from Parchin in October that were tested for the presence of nuclear materials. The agency found two particles of man-made uranium… The amount of uranium was so small that the IAEA couldn’t conclude for certain that nuclear materials had been at the base.

Normally if the IAEA doesn’t have enough evidence about likely weapons work, it just goes back and gets more. But the nuclear deal blocks further inspections:

Normally, the IAEA requires additional samples to be taken when there are irregularities found in their tests… But under last year’s nuclear agreement, Tehran was only required to allow the IAEA’s inspectors to visit the Parchin facility once… Under the nuclear deal, Iran has committed to allowing the IAEA access to all of its suspected nuclear sites. But it isn’t clear if Iran would allow inspectors back into Parchin because it is a military base. Iranian officials have said last year’s visit wouldn’t be repeated.

So the Iranians were doing weapons work, the IAEA doesn’t know what kind of work it was, and the deal doesn’t force the Iranians to clarify. The result guts verification of the deal: IAEA inspectors can’t confirm Iran has halted its illicit weapons work, because inspectors don’t know what kind of illicit weapons work Iran was doing. There is no baseline to work from:

Critics of the nuclear deal have cited the presence of uranium at Parchin as evidence the Obama administration didn’t go far enough in demanding Iran answer all questions concerning its past nuclear work before lifting international sanctions in January. They also argue that it is hard to develop a comprehensive monitoring regime without knowing everything Iran has done.

Last June Secretary Kerry had previously argued that the U.S. didn’t even need Iran to come clean because the U.S. had “absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in” [a]. The claim was widely criticized by lawmakers and analysts for being false [b][c]. The AP subsequently revealed the self-inspection arrangement in August [d]. Defenders of the deal responded with an organized public attack on the outlet’s credibility, up to and including suggestions that the AP was running forged Israeli documents [e]. Administration officials separately argued that the Iranian inspections would be adequate to resolve the nature of the country’s past weapons work [f].

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[a] http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2015/06/243892.htm
[b] https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2015-06-19/no-u-s-doesn-t-have-absolute-knowledge-on-iran-s-nukes
[c] https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2015/06/17/john-kerrys-ludicrous-statements-on-iran-and-syria/
[d] http://bigstory.ap.org/article/a9f4e40803924a8ab4c61cb65b2b2bb3/ap-exclusive-un-let-iran-inspect-alleged-nuke-work-site
[e] http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/08/24/iran-deal-truthers.html
[f] http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/19/politics/iran-nuclear-deal-inspections-parchin/

Yes, Iran Lied About Not Building a Nuclear Bomb

June 20, 2016

Yes, Iran Lied About Not Building a Nuclear Bomb, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, June 20,2016

mission-accomplished_5

In a sane world, this wouldn’t even be a news story.

Iran is an energy power. It had no need for nuclear research except for a weapons program. It has blown through fortunes on its nuclear program that make no sense in a country with low energy prices.

Despite this the media insisted on believing the “fatwa” nonsense that Iran considered a bomb un-Islamic, even though the program began due to the Iran-Iraq War. The entire nuclear deal is premised on the bizarre idea that Iran wants a peaceful nuclear energy program. And now Obama Inc. is haltingly admitting that Iran did have a weapons program, but promising that this time it’ll be really peaceful.

The Obama administration has concluded that uranium particles discovered last year at a secretive Iranian military base likely were tied to the country’s past, covert nuclear weapons program, current and former officials said, a finding that contradicts Tehran’s longstanding denials that it was pursuing a bomb.

Traces of man-made uranium were found at the Parchin facility, southeast of Tehran, by investigators from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, as part of an investigation tied to the landmark nuclear deal reached last July between Iran and global powers.

The Iranians have claimed that the site was used for developing and testing conventional weapons. The particles were the first physical evidence — on top of satellite imagery and documents from defectors — to support the charge that Iran had been pursuing a bomb there.

The Obama administration didn’t comment about the uranium in December when the IAEA released its report; the finding got only one brief mention in the 16 pages. But in recent interviews, current and former U.S. officials asked about the uranium finding said the working assumption now is that it is tied to nuclear weapons development that Iran is believed to have pursued more than a decade ago.

Administration officials also said the discovery hasn’t altered the assessment by U.S. intelligence that Tehran suspended its bomb-making efforts in 2003.

2003 isn’t “decades” ago. And the working assumption is whatever Obama Inc. finds convenient at any given time.

So Iran rather blatantly lied about its weapons program. But now we’re pretending that it’s telling the truth. And the original WSJ story should be viewed with a grain of salt as the White House has focused on leaking its Iran spin, particularly damaging information, such as its spying on Israel to protect Iran’s weapons program, through the Wall Street Journal. So think of this as more narrative. Ben Rhodes sitting and chuckling to himself while pushing this story to avoid the latest damaging revelations coming down the pike.

And, oh yes.

Iranian and Russian officials are discussing building several new nuclear power plants in Iran, according to an article published Thursday by the news agency Trend.

The two countries are working together to build as many as eight new nuclear power plants as well as modernize existing reactors, according to Trend.

Mission Accomplished.

How Hilary’s foreign policy ‘succeeded’ for Iran

June 4, 2016

How Hilary’s foreign policy ‘succeeded’ for Iran, DEBKAfile, June 4, 2016

6Hardline Ayatolla Ahmad Janati

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential frontrunner, declared Thursday June 2 in a major foreign policy address: ‘We are now safer than we were before this agreement (the International-Iran nuclear deal).”

A short while before her speech, the State Department, published its yearly report on world terror, and determined, as in past years, that Iran remains “the leading state sponsor of terrorism, on account of its support for designated terrorist groups and proxy militias in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.”

Three days earlier, on May 31, scientists at the Institute for Science and International Security, published an extensive analysis of the second report of the IAEA in Vienna, whose job it is to monitor the Iranian nuclear program and establish whether Tehran’s is complying with its commitments.

Their report is titled: IAEA’s Second JCPOA Report: Key Information Still Missing.

The American scientists found oversights in the international watchdog’s report, suggesting collaboration between the Obama administration and the IAEA to conceal Iranian violations.

The scientists offered some examples of these omissions:

Data is lacking on the number of centrifuges, including advanced models, operating in Natanz enrichment facilities as well as the Fordo underground plant. There is no information on what happened to the 20 percent-enriched uranium still remaining in Iran.

Another example is the lack of information on the Iran’s heavy water which is provisionally stored in Oman. Who does it belong to and who oversees it?

These are just a few examples of the blanks in the promised oversight over Iran’s nuclear program, not to mention Iran’s banned ballistic missile program which is geared to design missiles able to reach the US.

The Obama administration had based his detente with Tehran, capped by the nuclear deal, on producing a breakthrough in US-Iran relations. It was intended to strengthen the moderate, reformist and liberal political elements in Iran. ButDEBKAfile sources and Iranian experts report that the exact opposite happened, as is evident in two important elections held in Iran in the past two weeks.

In the elections to the Assembly of Experts, the body which chooses Iran’s top leader, the 91-year-old Ayatollah Ahmad Janati was elected. He is one of the most extreme hardliners in Iran.

A few days later, Ali Larijani was re-elected as Speaker of the Iranian Parliament. Larijani is close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He won by a land slide over the reformist candidate put forward by President Hassan Rouhani.

Five months ago, when the first results of the Iranian elections to the Majlis and to the Assembly of Experts came in, there were cries of joys in the Obama administration. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Jawad Zarif proclaimed it at the time a victory for the moderates.

Where did these ‘moderates’ disappear in the interim and how did they become supporters of the extremists?

On Friday, June 3, less than 24 hours after Clinton’s foreign policy speech, Iran’s leader Ayatollah Khamenei celebrated his victory over American policy saying: Iran has many small and big enemies, but foremost among them are America and Britain. “Any cooperation with the US,” he stressed, “is an act against Iran’s independence.”

Could North Korea Secretly Build an Iranian Bomb?

May 11, 2016

Could North Korea Secretly Build an Iranian Bomb? The National InterestPeter Brookes, May 10,2016

(Please see also, The Iran-North Korea Axis of Atomic Weapons? — DM)

Khamanei-300x271

Editor’s Note: The National Interest and the Heritage Foundation have partnered for a multi-part occasional series examining various aspects of the Iran nuclear agreement. The below is part four of the series. You can read previous parts here: one, two and three.

Last summer’s Iran nuclear deal has been roundly criticized for a number of solid reasons, ranging from Tehran’s ability under the deal to continue advanced centrifuge research to lingering questions about the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program.

That’s all well established.

One issue that has been largely ignored—wittingly or unwittingly—is this: What if Iran were able to find a suitable partner to collude with on an ‘‘underground” nuclear weapons program, all while seemingly staying within the restrictions of the July 2015 nuclear deal?

In other words, Tehran could by all public accounts adhere to the P5+1’s (China, France, Germany/European Union, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). But concurrently, Iran could work clandestinely with another country to advance its nuclear weapons program, essentially circumventing the International Atomic Energy Agency’s inspections and monitoring of the nuclear program inside Iran.

What better candidate for covert cooperation than cagey North Korea?

First, there’s no doubt that North Korea has a nuclear weapons capability. It has conducted four—maybe soon five—tests (2006, 2009, 2013 and 2016), possibly using both plutonium and uranium as fissile material.

Next, some analysts believe Pyongyang may have already “miniaturized” or “weaponized” the underground testing device into a nuclear warhead, capable of being mated to a ballistic missile. Even if North Korea hasn’t achieved it yet, it’s working on it.

Pyongyang has also expanded its missile testing beyond land-based launches. It now has conducted at least two subsurface ballistic missile tests that may also be related eventually to its nuclear weapons program. Clearly, these North Korean capabilities—though not all proven—would benefit an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Also important is that Pyongyang seems willing to share its nuclear know-how with others, as evidenced by its building of a nuclear facility for Damascus that was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in 2007. Though public evidence is scarce and, if available, gauzy, it’s quite reasonable to conclude with some confidence that Pyongyang and Tehran already have some sort of established security or defense relationship. For instance, in 2012, Iran and North Korea reportedly signed a science and technology (S&T) agreement. It’s fair to assume that any cooperation is defense-related.

Indeed, considering the sorry state of their respective economies, research and industrial bases, it’s hard to conceive of what sort of civilian S&T Pyongyang might offer Tehran—and vice versa, of course.

Lending credence to this idea is the report that, at the time of the S&T agreement’s signing, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, spoke of how Tehran and Pyongyang had “common enemies.” The United States quickly—and clearly—comes to mind.

The idea of collaboration should come as no real surprise, as it’s seemingly well-known that the Iran and North Korea are reported to have been cooperating at some level on ballistic missiles going back to at least the late 1990s. For instance, it’s long been asserted that some Iranian ballistic missiles (e.g., the Shahab) are based on North Korean ballistic-missile technology (e.g., the Nodong) or transfers (e.g., the Scud).

Equally alarming is the New York Times report suggesting that the 2013 North Korean nuclear test may have been conducted “for two countries.” That notion was raised by unattributed U.S. government sources and gives support to concerns that Pyongyang and Tehran may be cooperating on more than ballistic missiles. This wouldn’t be the first time such an allegation has been leveled at Tehran and Pyongyang informally, but perhaps the first time it’s been acknowledged by Washington, taking into account a source not willing to be identified.

Of course, the situation has changed dramatically with the JCPOA now in force. Iran now has more than a passing interest in moving forward with its nuclear weapons program—especially considering the evolving regional security situation—without losing the benefits that the agreement provides, such as the removing of crippling economic sanctions. From Iran’s perspective, the need for “nuclear networking” with North Korea is greater than ever.

Of course, it’s not just Tehran that is in need. Pyongyang is also needy for its own reasons, such as its self-imposed, collectivist economic woes and the increasing international economic sanctions it faces over nuclear and missile tests.

In addition, North Korea could use some technical assistance with its space launch program, where Iran is arguably more advanced, but which is integral—and critical—to Pyongyang’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program.

Lastly, both countries despise the United States and some of its allies (e.g., South Korea and Israel). Accordingly, Iran and North Korea would benefit from the existence of another state that threatens America with nuclear-tipped ICBMs.

 In other words, there’s plenty of political and military motivation for these two rogue states to get together on nuclear and/or missile matters, arguably even more so today than last summer, before the JCPOA came into effect.