AFP: A senior US official said Thursday there was evidence that North Korea has transferred technology to Iran, confirming cooperation between two nations of deep concern to Washington.
WASHINGTON, September 16, 2010 (AFP) – A senior US official said Thursday there was evidence that North Korea has transferred technology to Iran, confirming cooperation between two nations of deep concern to Washington.
Asked at a congressional hearing if he saw signs of technology transfer from North Korea to Iran, Wallace Gregson, the assistant secretary of defense for Asian affairs, responded: “Yes.”
“North Korea has demonstrated frequently their intent to violate a number of international norms, sanctions and resolutions to transfer forbidden military technology to more than one other party,” Gregson said.
Gregson, who was responding to questions by Republican Senator John McCain, said he could only reveal more information in a classified session.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, on a visit to Japan in May, accused North Korea of creating an “axis of evil” by supplying Iran and Syria with weapons technology.
Lieberman pointed to Thailand’s seizure of weapons last year, which he said were destined to the Iranian-backed Islamist movements Hamas and Hezbollah.
North Korea denied Lieberman’s allegations and called him an “imbecile.”
But outside experts have long suspected proliferation from North Korea, whose ballistic missiles and other military technology constitute one of the impoverished state’s few profitable exports.
In 2007, Israel bombed a site in Syria alleged to be a nuclear reactor. The United States later said that the site was constructed with North Korean help.
However, Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs, acknowledged that US intelligence was limited on North Korea — including potential succession to leader Kim Jong-Il.
“In fundamental ways North Korea is still a black box,” Campbell testified, calling the country “probably the hardest target that we face in the global arena.”
“We have some glimpses and some intelligence and the like, but the truth is, oftentimes in retrospect, some of that intelligence has proven to be wrong,” Campbell said.
North Korea in 2003 pulled out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty amid a standoff with the United States and later tested two nuclear bombs.
Gregson said that while North Korea has “demonstrated the ability to detonate nuclear devices,” the United States did not believe it had the ability to attack with a nuclear weapon.
Western powers believe that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons in the guise of a civilian energy program, charges the Islamic republic denies.