TOKYO – Next week, world leaders will gather in New York to mark the 40th anniversary of the Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty and to discuss means to further limit the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. This meeting follows on a recent summit in Washington to discuss nuclear security, and the new strategic arms reduction treaty signed by US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in early April. All this diplomatic activity is good news for everyone, everywhere. But neither the US-Russia agreement, nor the global nuclear arms talks, will have much impact on today’s most perilous threat: the nuclear honeymoon between an Iran determined to acquire a nuclear weapons capacity and a North Korea willing to sell Iran much of that capacity for hard currency.
Today, more than 6,000 North Koreans work in Iran and neighboring areas of the Middle East. Many are engaged in construction and the apparel business as low-wage workers. But in Iran and Syria, there are also a growing number of specialist workers. Indeed, when Israel attacked a nuclear facility in Syria in September 2007, it was revealed that North Koreans were involved in developing the site in cooperation with the Syria National Technical Research Center.