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Earlier this month, North Korea conducted what appears to be its largest and most sophisticated nuclear test to date, but what may also be emerging from the story is the extent that Iran and North Korea are colluding in their efforts to grow their nuclear programs.
One of the most telling indicators of this collaboration may be the reported presence of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi at the North Korean test. Mahabadi is the chief Iranian nuclear scientist and rarely travels outside of Iran.
That prospect is very troubling to foreign-policy expert and accomplished fiction and nonfiction author Joel C. Rosenberg. He is the author of "The Twelfth Imam" trilogy. The final installment of the trilogy, "Damascus Countdown," debuts March 5.
"That is further, I would say confirmation, but certainly raises further concern that North Korea is actually doing the testing for Iran. In other words, Iran would essentially be paying for North Korea to be its research and development system, both for ballistic missiles but also for warheads," Rosenberg told WND. "So Iran might be assembling a bomb right now. We don't know that for sure. North Korea might be providing the data for how to test it and make sure that it works. This convergence, this collaboration, between Iran and North Korea is exceedingly dangerous for the United States but also clearly for Israel and for the rest of the Middle East."
Rosenberg said his analysis is far from speculation, and the cozy nuclear relationship between Iran and North Korea is well documented.
"North Korea and Iran are working very, very closely. They have been for years. In fact, they even signed an agreement, a treaty back in 2011 to work on nuclear issues between North Korea and Iran," Rosenberg said.
Outside of their shared desire to acquire nuclear weapons and a mutual loathing of the United States, there wouldn't seem to be much in common between an atheistic communist state and the theocratic Muslim regime in Iran. Rosenberg said their alliance helps both sides address glaring problems.
"It seems odd but here's the bottom line. Like anything in Washington, follow the money," Rosenberg said.
"North Korea is starving for cash, but it has nuclear technology and has already tested nuclear weapons several times," he said. "Iran has plenty of cash, not the people but the government. It's starving for hard data of what a nuclear test looks like without inviting an American or Israeli airstrike before Iran can get its weapons built and ready to launch. This is a match made in hell."
The U.S. and other nations have attempted to convince and entice North Korea to abandon its nuclear program over the past two decades with little success to show for it. Rosenberg said efforts to talk Iran out of developing its nukes is an even more fruitless endeavor.
"These aren't just radical Shia Muslims. They have an eschatology, an end times theology they've spoken openly about that the end of the world is almost here. The so-called Islamic messiah, known as the twelfth imam, is going to come and reveal himself on earth at any moment," Rosenberg said. "The way to hasten or accelerate this appearance of this twelfth imam is to annihilate two countries – Israel, which they call the Little Satan, and the United States, which they call the Great Satan.
"From the perspective of the leaders in Tehran, they believe they are being driven by an end-times theology, and there's no way that they're going to back off from that. They want to bring about their so-called messiah and a global Islamic kingdom or caliphate that they've been talking about for centuries," Rosenberg said.
He said this mindset is not shared by most of the people in Iran or even most of the people in government. As a result, he said a few options exist to diminish the Iranian nuclear threat since sanctions seem to give the Iranians even more resolve.
"The only way to dissuade them is to eliminate those leaders with a revolution or an assassination or a series of them or neutralize the Iranian program," said Rosenberg, who believes Obama's upcoming trip to Israel and other nations in the region is specifically designed to find a strategy to neutralize the Iranian threat.