RFL/RE – Iran and North Korea resumed cooperation on the development of long-range missile projects last year, according to a UN report.
“This resumed cooperation is said to have included the transfer of critical parts, with the most recent shipment associated with this relationship taking place in 2020,” an independent panel of experts monitoring international sanctions on North Korea said in an annual report submitted to the UN Security Council on February 8.
The report cited an unnamed UN member state, which provided information that North Korea and Iran “resumed cooperation on long-range missile development projects.”
In response to the allegations, Iranian UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi told panel members in December that a preliminary review of the information provided by the monitors indicated that “false information and fabricated data” may have been used in their investigation.
The report monitors the multiple UN sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear- and ballistic-weapons programs. It found North Korea maintained and developed its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs throughout 2020 in violation of international sanctions, funded them through cyberattacks, and skirted around some sanctions.
The United States has long accused North Korea and Iran of cooperating on missile development.
According to a copy of the UN report viewed by Bloomberg, the UN panel received information that Iran’s Shahid Haj Ali Movahed Research Center received support from North Korea for a space-launch vehicle.
The United States claims Iran’s space and satellite program is dual-use and primarily designed to develop advanced ballistic missiles.
In September, the United States said the Shahid Haj Ali Movahed Research Center “played a key role in Iranian-North Korean missile cooperation” as it unveiled more sanctions on Tehran.
The report comes as U.S. President Joe Biden’s new administration is reviewing former President Donald Trump’s North Korea policy.
The Biden administration is also trying to revive diplomacy with Iran after Trump withdrew the United States from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018 and reimposed sanctions. In response, Iran has gradually breached its nuclear commitments.
In an interview with CNN on February 8, Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated that “if Iran returns to compliance with its obligations under the nuclear agreement, we would do the same thing.”
“And then we would work with our allies and partners to try to build a longer and stronger agreement, and also bring in some of these other issues, like Iran’s missile program, like its destabilizing actions in the region that need to be addressed as well,” Blinken added.
Iranian officials have insisted that the United States should make the first move by returning to the 2015 accord, which eased international sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s disputed nuclear program.
They have also said that the country’s missile program and regional policies are off the table.