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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Report: Iranian nuclear chief at N. Korea test

Sunday's Times of London is reporting that the head of Iran's nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, was in North Korea last week to observe that country's third nuclear missile test.
According to the sources, Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi was responsible for the development of a warhead "small enough to fit on to one of the ballistic missiles developed by Iran from North Korean prototypes," the report stated.
North Korea said its test on Tuesday had "greater explosive force" than the 2006 and 2009 tests, which were widely seen as small-scale.
The report echoes comments made earlier in the week by a security expert that the nuclear test may have also been carried out on behalf of Iran, and in the presence of Iranian atomic scientists.
North Korea is making progress both in its nuclear weapons capabilities and its ICBM missile research, Dr. Alon Levkowitz, coordinator of Bar-Ilan University’s Asian Studies Program and a member of the BESA Center for Strategic Studies, told The Jerusalem Post.
“The most disturbing question is whether the Iranians are using North Korea as a backdoor plan for their own nuclear program. The Iranians didn’t carry out a nuclear test in Iran, but they may have done so in North Korea,” Levkowitz said. “There is no official information on this... but Iran may have bypassed inspections via North Korea. If true, this is a very worrying development.”
There is some doubt as to whether the missile that North Korea tested was based on plutonium or enriched uranium. What is known about Iran's program is that it is based on enriched uranium, but....
The North’s nuclear weapons program is mainly based on plutonium, while Iran is mostly relying on uranium in its efforts to build a bomb. Yet some analysts believe that Tehran may be pursuing a parallel, secret plutonium nuclear program. Similarly, North Korea is also known to have enriched uranium through spinning centrifuges, a process Pyongyang has recently made much progress in, Levkowitz said.
What could go wrong?

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