By Mike Mulvihill
Dubya was never one of my favorites, but this week’s Wikileaks exposed that his Axis of Evil label is likely well-earned given what we now know about nuclear collusion between North Korea and Iran.
Per the stories in the New York Times and Financial Times, Iran obtained a cache of advanced missiles, based on a Russian design, much more powerful than anything Tehran has admitted is in its arsenal. Apparently, Iran obtained 19 such missiles from North Korea. The missiles could give Iran the capacity to strike at cities in Western Europe or easily reach Moscow.
Diplomatic cables exposed by WikiLeaks more than suggest that Iran is taking pains to master the technology in an attempt to build a new generation of missiles and hints at far deeper military — and perhaps nuclear — cooperation between North Korea and Iran. The North Korean version of the advanced missile, known as the BM-25, could carry a nuclear warhead. Many experts say that Iran has a ways to go before it can obtain a nuclear warhead, especially one small enough to fit atop a missile, though they believe that it has worked hard to do so.
That brings us to the next element of the intrigue: Iran’s first nuclear power reactor will go online in late January. Per JTA and Iranian state media outlets, the last of 163 fuel rods have been loaded into the Bushehr reactor. In case anyone forgot, Iran is under U.S. and international sanctions because of its nuclear program, which Iran says will be used to produce electricity and which the West believes could be used to produce nuclear weapons.
Now we have nuclear missile technology and nuclear warhead material development all in play.
The final element of this axis of intrigue comes from the The Daily Beast, which carried a report from the Guardian which suggests several Middle Eastern nations, quaking in their boots over Iran’s nuclear weapons, might be doing something about it. Early Monday morning, motorcycle-riding assailants set off separate bomb attacks against two Iranian nuclear physicists, prompting accusations from Iran’s state-run media that the U.S. and Israel were plotting to destroy the country’s nuclear capabilities. One of the physicists was killed and the other wounded. One of the scientists worked at the Supreme National Defense Academy, run by the Iranian Army and heavily involved in the country’s nuclear efforts. The bombings were similar to an attack against another physicist last January, which also involved a remotely detonated car bomb.
Unfortunately, all this confluence of factors will only arouse fears about nuclear reactors for power generation somehow playing a role in nuclear warfare and nuclear terrorism. It’s a far stretch in an open society where it is quite easy to tell the difference between the technology for power generation and the technology used to enrich uranium for fissionable warhead material. But that won’t stop alarmists from further derailing the use of low greenhouse emission nuclear power as part of America’s cleaner energy future. Intriguing, but sad.