Kyodo News International – Iranian and North Korean security officials agreed in August to continue to cooperate in the fields of nuclear and missile development under new President Hassan Rouhani, a Western diplomat said Saturday, quoting Iranian sources.
The agreement was reached by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a heavily armed security unit under the Iranian leadership, and a group of unnamed North Korean security officials in Tehran on Aug. 3, a day before Rouhani’s swearing-in.
Rouhani has been working on improving relations mainly with Western countries, even showing flexibility in negotiations over its nuclear program with the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany.
The revealed deal between the security officials of the two countries runs contrary to Rouhani’s position and that may potentially be a drag on the new president’s policy of seeking better ties with Western nations, the diplomat suggested.
The United States is closely monitoring the IRGC’s activities including the “central role it plays in Iran’s missile and nuclear programs” as well as its relations with North Korea.
The meeting took place when a North Korean delegation visited the Iranian capital to attend Rouhani’s swearing-in ceremony. Some of the security elements in the North Korean delegation attended the meeting with Mohammad Ali Jafari, head of the IRGC, the diplomat said.
Kim Yong Nam, North Korea’s No. 2 leader and president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, led the delegation but he is believed to have been absent from the meeting as he was attending a meeting with Rouhani at the time.
North Korea has obtained foreign currencies through activities such as arms exports to Iran.
The North Koreans who met Jafari were concerned about the possibility that Rouhani, as he moderates the stance taken toward Western countries by his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, might review military cooperation between Tehran and Pyongyang.
Jafari told the North Koreans that the IRGC was not subordinate to the president but to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and that bilateral cooperation on “strategic matters” would continue, according to the diplomat.
The diplomat assumed the IRGC commander had apparently meant the missile and nuclear programs.
The diplomat said some members of the North Korean delegation had visited military facilities in the Tehran area.
The Iranian officials who accompanied the North Koreans in the tour included senior officials from the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics and the head of the Aerospace Industries Organization, which develops ballistic missiles under the ministry, the diplomat said.