Iran's Drone and Missile Attacks: Implications for North Korea's Capabilities

North Korea and Iran's growing missile cooperation raises regional security concerns. Experts call for confronting Iran's aggression to restore Western deterrence and impact Russia's position in Ukraine.

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Rafia Tasleem
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Iran's Drone and Missile Attacks: Implications for North Korea's Capabilities

Iran's Drone and Missile Attacks: Implications for North Korea's Capabilities

Recent reports have shed light on the growing cooperation between North Korea and Iran in the development of long-range missile projects. According to a UN report, the two countries resumed their collaboration in 2020, which included the transfer of critical parts. While Iran's UN ambassador disputed the allegations, the report found that North Korea maintained and developed its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in 2020, in violation of international sanctions.

The United States has long accused North Korea and Iran of cooperating on missile development, with the Shahid Haj Ali Movahed Research Center in Iran playing a key role in this partnership. As the Biden administration reviews its North Korea policy and seeks to revive diplomacy with Iran, the recent attacks by Iran on Saudi Arabia's Aramco oil facilities in 2019 and on Israel in 2024 have raised concerns about the implications for North Korea's capabilities.

The 2019 Aramco attack demonstrated Iran's ability to conduct sophisticated conventional strikes, posing a direct threat to Israel beyond just a future nuclear threat. In the 2024 attack, Iran chose to strike from its own territory rather than through proxies, and did so despite an explicit American warning, showing a loss of fear towards the U.S. and its allies. While the high interception rate of the attacks is a tactical achievement, it does not restore Western deterrence or the strategic balance of power.

Why this matters: The cooperation between North Korea and Iran in missile development has significant implications for regional security and stability. As Iran demonstrates its growing capabilities and willingness to conduct direct attacks, there are concerns that North Korea may also enhance its own missile and drone programs through this partnership.

Experts argue that this presents an opportunity for the U.S. and its allies to confront Iran's aggression and restore American standing in the region, which would also indirectly impact Russia's position in Ukraine. Israel, in particular, must work to enlist the U.S. and a Western coalition to confront Iran's current aggression and stop the erosion of its own deterrence in the region. The UN report's findings highlight the need for continued monitoring and enforcement of international sanctions to curb the development of North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Key Takeaways

  • North Korea and Iran resumed missile cooperation in 2020, per UN report.
  • Iran conducted sophisticated attacks on Saudi Arabia and Israel, showing loss of U.S. deterrence.
  • Cooperation between North Korea and Iran raises regional security concerns.
  • U.S. and allies should confront Iran's aggression to restore deterrence and impact Russia.
  • Continued monitoring and enforcement of sanctions on North Korea's nuclear program is needed.