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Intelligence Report Sees NK-Iran Nuke Collusion

By Reuben Staines
Staff Reporter

Nuclear cooperation between North Korea and Iran has increased appreciably in recent months, according to a new intelligence report, setting off alarms at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna.

Reuters news agency said it obtained an intelligence report from a non-U.S. diplomat in the Austrian capital noting ``a significant improvement in relations between Iran and North Korea over the past few months.’’

The report cited a secret masters course run by a Tehran university in which senior North Korean scientists and atomic technicians gave lectures.

``This nuclear cooperation between the two countries has apparently increased significantly during the past year as seen in the arrival of an academic delegation from North Korea in Iran and the existence of this special course,’’ it said. ``It seems Iran is taking another step to promote its military nuclear project by exploiting North Korea’s extensive technological information in the nuclear sphere.’’

IAEA officials said they have not seen the report but believed the claims of nuclear collaboration are credible and extremely worrying.

South Korean experts expressed concern that North Korea’s links with Iran could lead the United States to harden its attitude toward the communist regime.

``North Korea should be very cautious about such a relationship,’’ Yu Suk-ryul, professor at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, told The Korea Times.

While Seoul has expressed hope that Pyongyang will resume multilateral negotiations over its nuclear programs this month, Washington is more skeptical, he noted. ``This sort of thing will have a negative impact on the six-party talks,’’ he said.

The U.S. is pressuring both North Korea and Iran to give up their nuclear programs. Tehran claims its nuclear development is purely for energy production while Pyongyang declared itself a nuclear power in February and is estimated to have up to eight bombs.

Former U.N. weapons inspector David Albright said he is worried that North Korea may have decided take the role that Pakistan once played in proliferating nuclear technology and know-how.

U.S. officials have indicated that proliferation of nuclear technology to other countries or groups by North Korea would force it to take strong action to eliminate the threat.

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