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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hundreds of North Korean nuclear and missile experts in Iran

From the Korea Times, November 13:

Hundreds of North Korean experts involved in the Stalinist regime’s development of nuclear and missile programs are working in major facilities across Iran, a diplomatic source said Sunday.

“We have confirmed that hundreds of North Korean engineers and scientists have been working at more than 10 nuclear and missile sites in Iran through Humint (human intelligence),” the source said. “The collaboration has been taking place for years.”

North Korea has long been suspected of helping the Islamic state with a secret weapons program.

The source said the North Korean experts are from “Office 99,” under the North’s ruling Workers’ Party Munitions Industry Department. The secret bureau is widely believed to be responsible for the Stalinist regime’s exports of weapons and military technology.

In June this year, the Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun reported that Pyongyang dispatched 160 nuclear experts to Iran in an attempt to sell its nuclear and missile-related military technologies.

It claimed that the cash-strapped North was looking to sell its technology to overcome financial difficulties that have worsened since the international community slapped sanctions on it for nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. Since then, arms exports have been one of the major sources of hard currency for the communist North.

The conservative newspaper noted that the North Korean experts were believed to have helped Iran remove a computer virus from its systems at some uranium enrichment facilities and a centrifugal separator.

Last week, the Sankei Shimbun also reported that Tehran and Pyongyang have been jointly operating a secret nuclear research institute in Iran, saying 10 North Korean nuclear weapon scientists are allegedly at the institute to give advice to Iranian physicists.

It went on to say that the institute received “MCNPX2.6.0,” a version of North Korea’s nuclear development software that analyzes the interaction of particles, exposure levels and other factors crucial for the construction of nuclear reactors and warheads.

Iran has thus far denied its military cooperation with the North and insisted that its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian energy purposes only.
Some corroboration comes from Michael Ledeen:
The huge detonation at Karaj, which, as I have explained, surprised the attackers and distorted our understanding. The operation was aimed at the Revolutionary Guards Corps, specifically at General Hassan Tehrani Moghadam, who was both the architect of the national missile program and one of the nastiest officials in that legendarily nasty organization. The attackers did not know that there was a large quantity of rocket fuel on the base that day (which was the reason Moghadam was there). The special fuel came from North Korea, and it was supposed to double tne range of Iran’s missiles. The explosion that killed Moghadam and scores of his comrades ignited the rocket fuel, with dramatic results. To date, 377 dead have been reported to the supreme leader’s office. Among the dead are the attackers–they couldn’t escape the big explosion–and at least four North Korean officials, who were there for the celebration.

Ledeen's article points out that all of the recent Iranian explosions and other attacks - including some that were not widely reported - seem to have come from insiders, and he doesn't believe yesterday's Al Arabiya story that Khamenei was the target at Karaj either:
The attackers came from the internal opposition, and so far as I know they had no ties to any foreign anything, not a foreign intelligence service, not a foreign military organization, not a foreign government.

Of course, as always with things Iranians, you’ve got to caveat what you think you know. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been misinformed. But, on the other hand, I’ve been a lonely voice for quite a while, saying that the opposition (call it the Green Movement, for lack of an updated logo) would become more violent, that the movement was, if anything, more powerful than it was at the time of the big demonstrations a year and two years ago, and that the regime was full of opposition sympathizers and collaborators.

Because it’s obvious that whoever’s blowing up Iran, they’ve got a lot of help from some very important insiders. Don’t take it from me; ask Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. He knows that if his enemies can blow up those installations, they can blow up most anything. Of late, Khamenei hasn’t been particularly active in public events. Like his buddy, Hezbollah chief Nasrullah, he’s keeping his head down and his profile low.

Not that Khamenei has taken vows of solitude and silence. He’s fired several top Revolutionary Guards generals and colonels. Al Arabiya and other lovers of fairy tales would have us believe that Khamenei was the target of the Karaj bombing, and therefore he purged the Guards. But Khamenei wasn’t the target (there was no reason to believe he would attend the ceremony; after all, he didn’t even show up for the inauguration of the Bushehr nuclear plant), and while some of the Guards were indeed fired because of the bombings–they came from the counter-intelligence and “defense” organizations who are supposed to protect such facilities–others were fired because of their involvement in the burgeoning financial scandal. Other “analysts” suggest that Khamenei’s son had joined President Ahmadinejad in trying to kill the old man, but there is nothing to it. Ahmadinejad might well want Khamenei to reach paradise with all due speed, but he wasn’t involved in this affair.

The sources upon whom I rely for such information tell me there is more to come, and I’m sure that the supreme leader believes just that. He may not know the provenance of the army amassed against him and his regime, and he may well convince himself, as our own entrail readers have convinced themselves, that he is under siege from the satanic forces in Washington and Jerusalem. But I don’t believe it. Maybe–probably, even-Stuxnet. I don’t think the Greens are up to that one. Maybe, if you insist, some of the assassinations of the physicists, although I rather suspect they were suspected of disloyalty and were rubbed out by the regime.

But this is a major campaign, and I think it represents the revenge of the Iranian people against their torturers, murderers and oppressors.

(h/t Missing Peace)