North Korea continues to march toward a nuclear missile arsenal:
North Korea said Wednesday it had carried out a "successful" miniaturised hydrogen bomb test -- a shock announcement that, if confirmed, would massively raise the stakes in the hermit state's bid to strengthen its nuclear arsenal.
The announcement triggered swift international condemnation but also scepticism, with experts suggesting the apparent yield was far too low for a thermonuclear device.
It's bad enough that the nutball, charter member of the Axis of Evil regime in Pyongyang will have nuclear weapons. But this test has repercussions that reach the already blazing Middle East.
Attempts to bribe North Korea to refrain from going nuclear have clearly failed. I think the North Koreans rejected this because they figured out they could replace that kind of trade by selling nuclear weapons to Iran for cash:
Yes, I've been droning on for years about this hole in our non-proliferation efforts:
What if Pyongyang is already hosting an extensive Iranian-enrichment program, deeply buried somewhere in its half of the peninsula? What if some of the estimated 20 warheads are actually Iran’s property, having been manufactured and now stored far from Tehran to avoid detection?
Bolton notes both their missile cooperation and the North Korean reactor in Syria that Israel destroyed in September 2007 and which Iran probably paid for.
As this observer noted: "Good time to remind that Iran is never farther away from having a nuke than a single IL-76 flight from Pyongyang. Which we might detect." (tip to Instapundit)
Remember, Iran is continuing their missile program and we are doing nothing.
I think the problem is actually much worse than the prospect of a short flight from North Korea. I think that we shouldn't count on Iran needing to fly nuclear warheads into Iran to have a nuclear arsenal:
I've long worried that a nuclear deal with Iran will fail to consider that Iran is likely outsourcing some parts of their nuclear program. But what if I'm thinking small?
What if North Korea sells Iran nuclear missiles and rents the facilities in North Korea to launch them?
From North Korea, these missiles could reach Europe, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, and a number of targets in America. So Iran doesn't need to have the missiles inside Iran, really.
Not that Iran would want to have their nuclear arsenal in North Korea indefinitely. But even a temporary arsenal in North Korea would bridge a dangerous gap between building the capability to build nukes and having nukes inside Iran:
The problem from Iran's point of view is that they can't know if crossing one of these lines could trigger an American or Israeli preemptive strike out of fear that further delay in attacking would be too late to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. And if I was an Iranian nutball, I wouldn't assume the Americans and Israelis couldn't knock out my infrastructure.
Were I an Iranian nutball, under those circumstances, I'd want at least a few atomic warhead on hand before I announce capabilities to produce atomic weapons-grade material. Which would mean I'd have had to have bought some from either North Korea or Pakistan--or possibly even from some broke custodian of Russia's arsenal.
If Iran can announce both the ability to make nuclear bomb material and the possession of actual nuclear weapons--perhaps by detonating one in a test on their own territory--Tehran would quite possibly deter an attack on Iran's nuclear infrastructure.
We're not dealing with idiots. If the Iranian mullahs believe there are red lines that trigger Israeli or American action, why wouldn't they take counter-actions rather than just blindly cross those lines and provide a pretext for military action against them?
So maybe Iran just rents the North Korean-made nuclear missiles.
Or perhaps our nuclear deal with Iran will turn the Iranian regime into a responsible, regional non-nuclear power.
Have a super sparkly day.