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May 15, 2017 4:17 pm

In Wake of Latest North Korean Test Launch, Expert Says UN Should Sanction Iranians Involved With Pyongyang’s Ballistic Missile Program

avatar by Ben Cohen

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An official photo released by North Korea shows the launch of the Hwasong-12 missile on May 14, 2017.

Pyongyang’s test on Sunday of a new ballistic missile highlights its cooperation with Iran on missile development — leaving the Tehran regime vulnerable to further sanctions should the UN decide to act, a leading North Korea expert told The Algemeiner on Monday.

Anthony Ruggiero – a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) think tank and former State Department official — said that the blanket prohibition on weapons trade with North Korea, agreed to by the UN Security Council in March 2016 following a nuclear test carried out by the Pyongyang regime, meant Iranian individuals and entities already sanctioned by the US government could face further sanctions imposed by the UN.

“The Iran-North Korea missile relationship was so concerning to the Obama administration that they designated Iranian officials [for sanctions] for it the day after the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” Ruggiero said. “It certainly wasn’t what they wanted to do, just as the deal was being implemented, so that gives you a sense of the seriousness of this issue.”

On January 17, 2016, the US Treasury Department announced the sanctioning of eleven individuals and entities associated with Iran’s ballistic missile program. One of these individuals, Sayyed Javad Musavi, was the commercial director of an industrial company owned by the Iranian Defense Ministry, who worked with the North Koreans in obtaining “valves, electronics, and measuring equipment suitable for use in ground testing of liquid propellant ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles.” Musavi also coordinated the visits of Iranian scientists to North Korea “to work on an 80-ton rocket booster being developed by the North Korean government,” according to the Treasury Department.

“If we are concerned about the Iran-North Korea ballistic missile relationship, the UN Security Council has passed North Korea resolutions, and these people could be designated by the UN,” Ruggiero said. “One way of addressing Iran’s ballistic missile program is to use the North-Korea related authorities to sanction these Iranian individuals.”

The fact the Obama administration felt compelled to act against these Iranian entities just as the July 2015 nuclear deal with six powers was being implemented, Ruggiero argued, worked in favor of “those who want to go to the UN now.”

“We need to be going after North Korea’s international business — if the Obama administration said that Iran is a key part of that, and everybody else says that too, then we can use these UN authorities which have been around since 2006,” Ruggiero said.

The North Korean missile tested on Sunday was a Hwasong-12 — part of the Musudan family of missiles Iran has developed with the aid of successive North Korean dictators. In July 2016, Iran tested a Hwasong-10 missile that was produced locally with North Korean construction and design, according to the Pentagon.

A report issued on May 11 by US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence discussed other areas of military cooperation between Tehran and Pyongyang. “Iran and North Korea are also enhancing their abilities to disrupt military communications and navigation,” the report warned.

In March, David Albright — head of the Institute for Science and International Security think tank — told The Algemeiner that paying attention to any potential nuclear collaboration between North Korea and Iran should be a priority for the Trump administration.

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