Report: North Korea April Rocket Launch is Coverup for Iran Missile Test
In mid-April, North Korea intends to launch it’s long range Unha-3 rocket into space while carrying a satellite, sparking concerns in Washington and Seoul that an agreement to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear missile program is in jeopardy.
On Monday, the Israel Hayom newspaper reported that the scheduled launch is intended to assist the Iranians in testing their long range rocket technology, because Tehran believes conducting such a launch inside the Islamic Republic would aggravate western nations as the two sides head into negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program next month.
“There’s nothing surprising in this. Iran has, for roughly 20 years, used every ruse possible to avoid it’s international obligations, leaving it’s pledges in bilateral and multilateral frameworks. If they were to test through North Korea, it would just be another example of that,” said Gerald Steinberg of the BESA Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv.
President Obama, who is in South Korea for a nuclear security summit, spoke in the capital of Seoul on Sunday.
“North Korea will achieve nothing by threats or provocations,” he said.
“We are preparing measures to track the missile’s trajectory and shoot it down if it, by any chance, deviates from the planned route and falls into our territory,” said South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.
Yoel Guzansky, a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, said that if Iran were testing a long range rocket through North Korea, it would be business as usual.
“Those two countries cooperate deeply in missile testing, and even in the nuclear realm. It’s not a surprise, it’s nothing new,” he said.
“It might be true that the Iranians are deterred. You have the April p5+1 meeting coming up, so the Iranians do not want to ruin the chances of negotiations, giving them another reason why they would do this through North Korea,” he added.
The United States, Britain, China, Russia, France, and Germany (P5+1) are expected to meet in Geneva on April 13th with Iranian officials to discuss the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
North Korea says the rocket and satellite launch in April is intended to mark the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the country’s founder, and the grandfather of it’s current leader, Kim Jong Un. The United States says the launch violates an agreement reached just recently to provide food aid to North Korea in return for the reclusive nation’s halting of its nuclear program.
“Bad behavior will not be rewarded. There’s been a pattern for decades in which North Korea thought that if they acted provocatively, they would be bribed into ceasing and desisting,” President Obama said over the weekend.
“We’re going to break that habit,” he added.