N. Korea helps Tehran build mis­siles

Dis­si­dent net­work of spies ex­poses work at sites of nu­clear pro­gram

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

Iran has in­creased pro­duc­tion and test­ing of bal­lis­tic mis­siles since the 2015 nu­clear deal with the U.S. while play­ing per­ma­nent host to sci­en­tists from North Korea, which has the knowhow to build and launch atomic weapons, a lead­ing Ira­nian op­po­si­tion group said Tues­day.

The Na­tional Coun­cil of Re­sis­tance of Iran is­sued a white pa­per that the dis­si­dents say iden­ti­fies and doc­u­ments work at 42 mis­sile cen­ters op­er­ated by the Is­lamic Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard Corps, the regime’s dom­i­nant se­cu­rity force.

A dozen sites had never been dis­closed be­fore, said the coun­cil, which op­er­ates a spy net­work that has ex­posed Iran’s hid­den nu­clear pro­gram.

Tehran views ex­per­tise from North Korea as be­ing so crit­i­cal that it has es­tab­lished res­i­dences in Tehran for Py­ongyang’s sci­en­tists and tech­ni­cians, ac­cord­ing to the white pa­per. North Kore­ans have shown Iran how to dig tun­nels and build “mis­sile cities” deep in­side moun­tains to pre­vent de­struc­tion by airstrikes, among other projects.

“On the ba­sis of spe­cific in­tel­li­gence, the IRGC’s mis­sile sites have been cre­ated based on North Korean mod­els and blueprints,” the white pa­per said. “North Korean ex­perts have helped the Ira­nian regime to build them. Un­der­ground fa­cil­i­ties and tun­nels to pro­duce, store, and main­tain mis­siles have also been mod­eled af­ter North Korean sites and were cre­ated with the col­lab­o­ra­tion of the North Korean ex­perts.”

Ira­ni­ans also are trav­el­ing to North Korea, which uses oc­ca­sional mis­sile

test-fir­ings to rat­tle its neigh­bors South Korea and Ja­pan, two strong U.S. al­lies.

“In the con­text of these train­ings and re­la­tions, del­e­ga­tions of the IRGC’s aero­space con­stantly travel to North Korea and ex­change knowl­edge, in­for­ma­tion and achieve­ments with North Korean spe­cial­ists,” the re­port said. “North Korea’s ex­perts con­stantly travel to Iran while the IRGC’s mis­sile ex­perts visit North Korea.”

Pres­i­dent Trump has been harshly crit­i­cal of the 2015 deal struck by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and five international al­lies to lift eco­nomic sanc­tions and other fi­nan­cial penal­ties in ex­change for curbs on Iran’s nu­clear weapons pro­grams, but has said he will stick with the ac­cord for now while closely mon­i­tor­ing Tehran’s ad­her­ence to the deal. For their part, Iran’s lead­ers say they have yet to see all the ben­e­fits promised with the lift­ing of sanc­tions.

But even sup­port­ers of the Obama deal say there has been lit­tle sign that Iran’s Is­lamic Repub­lic has mod­er­ated its be­hav­ior on other fronts, in­clud­ing the se­ries of bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests in re­cent months that some ar­gue vi­o­late U.N. sanc­tions. U.S. of­fi­cials also say Iran con­tin­ues to back ter­ror groups and fo­ment in­sta­bil­ity in re­gional hot spots such as Syria and Ye­men.

At a press con­fer­ence Tues­day, Alireza Ja­farzadeh, the coun­cil’s deputy di­rec­tor in Wash­ing­ton, dis­played satel­lite pho­tos that he said clearly show trade­mark North Korean moun­tain en­trances to “cities” that hold hun­dreds of mis­siles.

He said the regime re­or­ga­nized the IRGC Aero­space Force to fo­cus al­most ex­clu­sively on mis­sile pro­duc­tion and test­ing rather than air­craft.

“It’s not by ac­ci­dent,” Mr. Ja­farzadeh said. “It’s part of their over­all strat­egy.”

He said a huge mis­sile ar­se­nal al­lows the rul­ing Shi­ite mul­lahs to in­tim­i­date Sunni Mus­lim neigh­bors such as ri­val Saudi Ara­bia. In ad­di­tion, mis­siles pro­vide a de­liv­ery sys­tem for the nu­clear weapons that the regime plans to build once the 2015 nu­clear deal, known as the Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Action, ex­pires in less than 10 years.

“We’re rac­ing against the clock,” he said.

The Na­tional Coun­cil of Re­sis­tance of Iran held a press con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton in April to present ev­i­dence that Tehran’s harsh Is­lamic regime is cheat­ing on the nu­clear deal by con­tin­u­ing se­cret work on atomic bomb com­po­nents. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion re­cently cer­ti­fied that the Is­lamic repub­lic is liv­ing up to its obli­ga­tions in the deal, which re­stricts Tehran’s pro­duc­tion of only nu­clear ma­te­rial, not mis­siles.

The coun­cil’s re­port pays close at­ten­tion to the Sem­nan mis­sile cen­ter, a complex of stor­age fa­cil­i­ties and launch­ing pads for medium-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles in north-central Iran. It is here, the white pa­per says, that Iran melds mis­sile work with nu­clear re­search con­ducted by the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of De­fen­sive In­no­va­tion and Re­search, known by the Per­sian acro­nym SPND.

The coun­cil first dis­closed SPND’s ex­is­tence in 2011. In 2014, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion im­posed sanc­tions on SPND for con­duct­ing il­licit work not al­lowed at by the pend­ing nu­clear deal.

“The Sem­nan cen­ter for mis­sile projects has been much more ac­tive af­ter the JCPOA,” a coun­cil of­fi­cial said. “The speed and scope of ac­tiv­i­ties and re­search in Sem­nan has in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly in this pe­riod and the ex­changes and traf­fic be­tween SPND.”

Iran has flouted U.N. res­o­lu­tions re­peat­edly by test-fir­ing bal­lis­tic mis­siles. In Fe­bru­ary, the non­profit Foun­da­tion for De­fense of Democ­ra­cies put the num­ber at 14 since the nu­clear deal was signed in July 2015. Since then, Iran has con­ducted at least two more tests.

On Sun­day, Iran for the first time since 2001 fired an op­er­a­tional mis­sile out­side its bound­aries, tar­get­ing an Is­lamic State-con­trolled town in eastern Syria. Tehran said the ground-toground mis­sile strike was re­tal­i­a­tion for the Is­lamic State’s June 7 ter­ror­ist at­tack on the Ira­nian par­lia­ment. In 2001, the regime fired mis­siles on re­sis­tance tar­gets in Iraq.

Iran owns one of the world’s largest in­ven­to­ries of bal­lis­tic mis­siles. Glob­alSe­cu­rity.org lists more than a dozen dif­fer­ent short- and medium-range Ira­nian mis­siles, some of which closely re­sem­ble North Korea’s Nodong ar­se­nal.

Tehran this year an­nounced the launch of the Emad, which has a range of 1,000 miles. It said the test marked a first for an Ira­nian pre­ci­sion-guided bal­lis­tic mis­sile.

More than ever, the re­sis­tance coun­cil said, Iran’s re­li­gious lead­ers see mis­siles as in­stru­men­tal to their sur­vival strat­egy.

“The Ira­nian regime has re­mained in power in Iran by re­ly­ing on two pil­lars: in­ter­nal re­pres­sion and ex­ter­nal ex­port of Is­lamic fun­da­men­tal­ism and ter­ror­ism,” the coun­cil said. “Its il­licit nu­clear weapons pro­gram and its con­tin­ued ex­pan­sion of bal­lis­tic mis­siles serve its pol­icy of ex­port of Is­lamic fun­da­men­tal­ism and ter­ror­ism.”

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