(Washington, D.C.) — Despite being widely criticized for a “failed” summit in Hanoi last week, President Trump was absolutely right to walk away from the “denuclearization” talks with North Korea.
As I explain in a new column in this morning’s Jerusalem Post, what’s at stake here is not just the urgency of stopping one rogue regime Hell-bent on becoming a full-blown nuclear power, but two — North Korea and Iran.
After years of secret tests, North Korea now has upwards of 60 operational nuclear warheads. If Pyongyang wants to give them up, Trump is fully ready to remove all economic sanctions, help the North make a full peace with the South, and mobilize the international community to help the North feed its people and enter the global economy. But Trump says he’s not going to accept anything less than full denuclearization. Amen.
Indeed, the reason Trump shouldn’t accept anything less is this….
For years, Tehran and Pyongyang have been working together closely on a variety of military matters. There is no question they are assisting each other’s ballistic missile programs, and have been since the 1980s. But are they also secretly cooperating on the development of nuclear warheads?
The premise at the heart of my forthcoming political thriller, The Persian Gamble, is this: What if Tehran decided to use the $150 billion in cash it received from the West for agreeing to the Iran nuclear deal to secretly purchase fully operational nuclear warheads from the cash-starved regime in Pyongyang, even while publicly pretending to adhere to the JCPOA [the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a.k.a., “Iran nuclear deal”]?
Might the ayatollahs try to bring such warheads into an Iranian harbor, right under the noses of the CIA and the Mossad? It would be an enormously risky move. But it is conceivable they could conclude the gamble was worth it.
American, Israeli and Arab intelligence officials I spoke with as I was researching and writing the novel say they have not seen evidence that Iran is literally trying to buy operational warheads “off the shelf.” Not yet, anyway.
However, they note with concern the fact that senior Iranian military and nuclear officials have been present for at least three North Korean nuclear warhead tests, and maybe more. They acknowledge it is conceivable that Pyongyang could be selling Tehran the data from each of these tests, helping the Iranians fine-tune plans to build their own warheads without having to test them during the period of the JCPOA.
“I have no doubt the proliferation tie between Iran and North Korea is real and active,” one former senior US intelligence official told me….
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