Friday, June 12, 2009

Report details recent North Korea terror links to Iran & Hezbolla

A CRS Report on North Korea requested to be updated by the office Senator DeMint details the the most recent links Pyongyang has to supporting terrorism. The report contains information on recent evidence that North Korea is working with terrorists groups like Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRG) and Hezbollah. North Korea was taken off of the State Sponsors of Terrorism list in October of 2008, not because they had stopped supporting terrorism, but in misplaced hopes by the Bush Administration that it would encourage Pyongyang would stop their pursuit of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

Last week, Senator DeMint led a group of senators that wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging her to relist North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. They also introduced an amendment to force the Obama Administration into action, but Majority Leader Harry did not allowed a vote.

This past Sunday, Secretary Clinton was on ABC News and was asked to respond to the senators' letter:

Asked whether she had evidence of the North's support for international terrorism, Clinton said: "We're just beginning to look at it. I don't have an answer for you right now."

Here are some examples of the North Korea's latest terror links from the CRS report:

[PAGE 21] North Korea’s relationship with the IRG appears to be in two areas: (1) coordination in support for Hezbollah and (2) cooperation in ballistic missile development. Reports also suggest that North Korea cooperates with the IRG and other Iranian entities in the development of nuclear capabilities or nuclear weapons.

[PAGE 22] State Department’s Fact Sheet asserted that the IRG “has assisted Hizballah [Hezbollah] in rearming” since the 2006 war, presumably including the supply of new longer-range missiles described by the 2008 Israeli intelligence estimate.

[PAGE 23] Later in 2006, it was reported that North Korea had made an initial shipment to Iran of its new Musudan intermediate range missile. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated in November 2007 that North Korea had supplied Iran with missiles with a range of 1,562 miles (probably the Musudan). North Korea and Iran reportedly carried out joint tests of the Musudan. In April 2008, several publications reported the existence of a new Iranian missile research and development site that had the same appearance as North Korea’s Taepodong missile assembly facility inside North Korea.

Several reports in 2009 described Iran seeking and receiving the assistance of North Korean missile technicians in preparing to launch a missile bearing an artificial satellite. The launch on February 2, 2009, was successful. A delegation of up to 15 Iranians, from the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (a company connected with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards), reportedly were observers at the site of North Korea’s test of a Taepodong II long-range missile on April 5, 2009. Officials from this company and IRG officials reportedly also had observed North Korea’s missile launches of July 4, 2006.

[PAGE 26] The Sankei Shinbun report of July 12, 2008, also described two visits of high level Iranian officials to North Korea in February and May 2008. The Iranian delegation included officials of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization and National Security Council. The apparent purpose of these visits, according to the report, was to ensure that North Korea would maintain secrecy about its nuclear collaboration with Iran in its negotiations with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill.

The Sankei Shimbun report of September 12, 2008, also described two forms of non-nuclear military cooperation between Iran and North Korea inside Syria. One of these reportedly involves North Korean scientists and military personnel working with Iranian and Syrian counterparts at a chemical weapons plant in northern Syria. The second reportedly involves a plan by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to deploy small, North Korean-made submarines in a military port in Syria.

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