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North Korea and Iran: States in denial

North Korea was quick to react following this week’s U.N. Security Council-imposed sanctions in response to its first test of a nuclear weapon. According to a North Korean spokesperson, “The resolution cannot be construed otherwise than a declaration of a war.” White House spokesperson Tony Snow said it would be no surprise if North Korea attempted another test just “to be provocative.”

Among the U.N. resolution provisos, North Korea would be barred from exporting material related to its nuclear, ballistic missile and unconventional weapons programs. Though aimed at preventing such North Korean arms from finding their way to terrorist groups or other rogue states, this may be too little, too late.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wasted no time in rejecting the sanctions resolution, which he said was an example of America using the Security Council as a “weapon.” He also rejected as “illegal” a Security Council demand that Iran halt its efforts to enrich uranium, a necessary process in the production of nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad’s statement echoed a threat by an Iranian nuclear official in March. “If Iran’s nuclear dossier is referred to the U.N. Security Council, (large-scale) uranium enrichment will be resumed,” Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, told a Tehran news conference.

The United States is deeply concerned over Iran’s stubborn pursuit of nuclear capability in the face of North Korea’s successful test of a nuclear weapon, not least because of the well-established arms connection between Pyongyang and Tehran. As U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton told reporters last week, Iran’s leaders should take note of the Security Council’s treatment of North Korea. “I am sure they’re watching in Tehran what we do on this North Korea resolution, and I hope they watch closely,” he said.

How closely does he expect Ahmadinejad to watch what the Security Council does after he has repeatedly proclaimed at the U.N. and elsewhere that the Holocaust never happened and that Iran is committed to wiping Israel off the face of the earth?

Israel has no illusions about the danger of a now nuclear-armed North Korea sharing its devastating expertise with Iran. Its officials urged the passage of the resolution, fearing that a weak international response to Pyongyang would encourage Tehran to speed up its nuclear program.

America is rightfully worried about the North Korean nuclear test, because it means that North Korea is now a nuclear power. No U.N. resolution is going to persuade the North Koreans to give up their bomb. The task of sanctions will be to help impose a combination of containment and deterrence, much like that of the Cold War, to keep the North Korean bomb on the Korean peninsula and to dissuade them from using it.

But God help the world if North Korea exports its nuclear genie to the Islamist extremists of Iran. Iranian nuclear terrorists would not have to launch ballistic missiles to threaten world peace, when they could dispatch legions of terrorists with suitcase-sized dirty nuclear bombs.

North Korea has been supplying Iran since 1993 with medium-range missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and poison gas, as well as warhead-guidance systems. A recent intelligence report cited in WorldNetDaily notes that Iran has received enough plutonium from North Korea to assemble a nuclear weapon. The CIA first reported the North Korea-Iran plutonium connection in 1994, but it was unverified until recently.

As U.S. Undersecretary of State Robert Joseph, in charge of arms control and international security, told the foreign press in Seoul recently: “I can say that the connections between North Korea and Iran are very strong, and North Korea has been, I think, the principal supplier to Iran of ballistic missile technologies.”

Iran’s much-touted Shahab-3 missile is simply the mullahs’ improved version of the Nodong, with a 1,000-mile range and a nuclear-capable payload of nearly one ton. Recent reports say North Korea and Iran are working to double the missile’s range by reducing the payload – to a smaller nuclear weapon of mass destruction.

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