While the verbal confrontation that erupted between the U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is alarming, it is very similar to the dispute between Washington and Tehran over Iran’s illicit nuclear program and the testing of nuclear capable missiles.
The Iranian regime is halted from developing nuclear weapons by the Iran Nuclear Deal, but experts believe that the regime is still seeking them, and the secrecy behind its nuclear program leaves us in the dark as to how far they’ve proceeded. Nuclear development is said to be conducted in deep underground bunkers. The regime in Tehran has many sophisticated ballistic missiles that are already capable of carrying warheads. According to reliable intelligence, the regime previously acquired at least six Raduga KH-55 Granat nuclear capable cruise missiles from Soviet officials in the Ukraine, but these KH-55s are several years past their service life, haven’t been properly maintained, and can only be launched from Russian Tupolev bombers, which the IRGC does not possess. It’s believed that these missiles were acquired to use as a blueprint to enable Iran to speed up its own missile program.
In 2006, it was reported that Iran received 18 ballistic missiles from North Korea, which are able to carry a nuclear payload. These missiles, called BM-25s by the North Koreans, have a range of 4000 km, can be transported by road, and are launched from a heavy off-road MAZ-537 transporter-erector-launcher (TEL). The launcher can travel over rugged terrain.
On February 18, 2010, an IAEA report said that Iran was believed to be working on a miniaturized warhead in secret. Allegedly, with the aid of North Korean scientists, the Iranians conducted tests at the Parchin military facility, developing designs aimed at miniaturizing nuclear implosion devices to be fitted to a Shahab-3 re-entry vehicle. To create a warhead small enough to fit into the nosecone of a missile, advanced technology is needed to convert enriched uranium into a metal that can be shaped into a dense spheroid. It is now believed that Iranian scientists have mastered this technology. Iran has successfully test-launched its Shahab-3 missile, which has a range of 1,280 kilometers, as well as the Sejil 2. Both missiles are said to be capable of carrying a nuclear payload.
Tehran has accelerated its production of all major military equipment and defense systems. In April 2014, under Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s Defense Ministry announced the delivery of a large quantity of indigenous missiles to the country’s armed forces.
Government reports were announced on Press TV, saying that Iran’s Aerospace Division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – the Khatam al-Anbiya Air Defense Base – had taken delivery of Qadr (Able), Quam (Uprising), Fateh (Conqueror) 110, Khalij-e-Fars (Persian Gulf) ballistic missiles, as well as a Mersad air defense system. This proves that sanctions imposed by the West have done little to stop Iran’s weapons industry or slow down the activity of its military sites.
Iranian Defense Minister, Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan, made it clear during the handover ceremony, that Iran will continue to boost the deterrence and defense capabilities of its armed forces and that Iran was more than capable of meeting the demands of its military. He also said that sanctions imposed by the West have had no effect on curtailing the country’s defense sector.
The new hardline Trump administration wants to get rid of the Iranian nuclear deal, and has accused Iran of financing military support for “terrorists and militias.” Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson made a statement supporting a “peaceful transition of government in Iran.” This statement was interpreted by the Iranian regime as a Trump administration policy statement for regime change.
Iran ignored U.S. criticism of its missile testing, and the U.S. Senate voted for legislation to place additional sanctions on Iran. In response, the Iranian parliament allotted a massive increase in the IRGC budget, as well as the nation’s missile defense program. an additional $26m would be allocated to Iran’s ballistic missile program, according to sources within the administration. The regime claimed that the increases were due to America’s aggressive behavior in the region and its hostile policies towards Iran.
Iran and North Korea have already collaborated on missile development and nuclear technology. Iranian officials are believed to have been in North Korea to witness the launch of the latest intermediate ballistic missile, which is reported to be capable of carrying a large-size nuclear warhead.
A North Korean delegation attended the inauguration of Hassan Rouhani on August 3. The chairman of the Supreme Assembly of North Korea, Kim Yong-nam, stayed on in Tehran for talks with the Iranian regime. The tension between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un has reached a crisis point, so this meeting can only result in heightened tension.