Thursday, May 28, 2009

Column One: Israel and the Axis of Evil

Column One: Israel and the Axis of Evil

May. 27, 2009

North Korea is half a world away from Israel. Yet the nuclear test it
conducted on Monday has the Israeli defense establishment up in arms and its
Iranian nemesis smiling like the Cheshire Cat. Understanding why this is the
case is key to understanding the danger posed by what someone once
impolitely referred to as the Axis of Evil.

Less than two years ago, on September 6, 2007, the IAF destroyed a North
Korean-built plutonium production facility at Kibar, Syria. The destroyed
installation was a virtual clone of North Korea's Yongbyon plutonium
production facility.

This past March the Swiss daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung reported that Iranian
defector Ali Reza Asghari, who before his March 2007 defection to the US
served as a general in Iran's Revolutionary Guards and as deputy defense
minister, divulged that Iran paid for the North Korean facility. Teheran
viewed the installation in Syria as an extension of its own nuclear program.
According to Israeli estimates, Teheran spent between $1 billion and $2b.
for the project.

It can be assumed that Iranian personnel were present in North Korea during
Monday's test. Over the past several years, Iranian nuclear officials have
been on hand for all of North Korea's major tests including its first
nuclear test and its intercontinental ballistic missile test in 2006.

Moreover, it wouldn't be far-fetched to think that North Korea conducted
some level of coordination with Iran regarding the timing of its nuclear
bomb and ballistic missile tests this week. It is hard to imagine that it is
mere coincidence that North Korea's actions came just a week after Iran
tested its solid fuel Sejil-2 missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers.

Aside from their chronological proximity, the main reason it makes sense to
assume that Iran and North Korea coordinated their tests is because North
Korea has played a central role in Iran's missile program. Although Western
observers claim that Iran's Sejil-2 is based on Chinese technology
transferred to Iran through Pakistan, the fact is that Iran owes much of its
ballistic missile capacity to North Korea. The Shihab-3 missile, for
instance, which forms the backbone of Iran's strategic arm threatening
Israel and its Arab neighbors, is simply an Iranian adaptation of North
Korea's Nodong missile technology. Since at least the early 1990s, North
Korea has been only too happy to proliferate that technology to whoever
wants it. Like Iran, Syria owes much of its own massive missile arsenal to
North Korean proliferation.
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