North Korea doesn’t just make weapons for itself. It also sells them.
“The North Koreans have a long history of being proliferators and sharing their knowledge, their technology, their capacities around the world,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Monday, according to Business Insider.
North Korea started selling Scud missiles to Iran in the 1980s, and a decade later, it started selling improved Scud missiles to both Syria and Iran. After the turn of the century, Iran admitted to purchasing North Korean missiles, but announced that it no longer needed assistance. While there is little evidence of cooperation on nuclear weapons development between Iran and North Korea, the same can’t be said for Syria, according to a Congressional Research Service report.
But, North Korea has developed new weapons, including an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland and a possible thermonuclear warhead with the ability to level a major urban center.
“As North Korea continues to improve its ability to do longer-range missiles and to put nuclear weapons on those missiles, it is very unlikely, if they get that capability, that they wouldn’t share it with lots of folks, and Iran would certainly be someone who would be willing to pay them for it,” Pompeo explained on Fox News.
The CIA chief expressed concerns about the intelligence gap on North Korea, arguing, “There’s still a lot that the intelligence community needs to learn.”
“I worry about the threat from North Korea in the sense that we have a place that is now on the cusp of having the capacity we’d hope they’d never have,” Pompeo continued, “with a leader who makes decisions, at the very least, in a very, very tight circle, in which we have limited access.”
Nonetheless, the odds that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is going to fire off a nuclear weapon at random are low, as doing so would be suicidal, impacting the regime’s survival goals.
“The U.S. conventional and nuclear forces, as well as South Korea and Japan’s forces, greatly outstrip North Korea in terms of technology,” Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the East Asia Nonproliferation Program in the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies,previously told The Daily Caller News Foundation, “I think they would only use this particular weapon in a Hail Mary, the state is collapsing, the regime is gone kind of situation.”
But, there is no guarantee that just because Kim doesn’t have an itchy trigger finger his buyers won’t.
“If for the sake of argument Iran does not have the capability to produce its own nuclear warhead to fit in one of its missiles, it could buy it off the shelf from North Korea, and it will fit perfectly because basically those are the same missiles,” Tal Inbar, Head of the Space Research Center at the Fisher Institute for Air & Space Strategic Studies, said in a recent interview with i24 News.
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