North Korea Sends Economic Delegation to Iran Amid Suspicions of Weapons Cooperation

North Korea sends high-level economic delegation to Iran, raising suspicions of cooperation on weapons programs amid Russia's war in Ukraine.

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Bijay Laxmi
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North Korea Sends Economic Delegation to Iran Amid Suspicions of Weapons Cooperation

North Korea Sends Economic Delegation to Iran Amid Suspicions of Weapons Cooperation

North Korea has sent an economic delegation to Iran, according to the country's state media KCNA. The delegation, led by External Economic Relations Minister Yun Jong-ho, left Pyongyang on Tuesday to visit Tehran. This rare trip by a high-ranking North Korean official to Iran raises suspicions of cooperation between the two nations over their weapons programs.

Pyongyang and Tehran have close ties and have been suspected of exchanging ballistic missile parts and technology, especially during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. "North Korea and Iran have close ties and have been suspected of exchanging ballistic missile parts and technology in the past," according to one of the summaries. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1973 and are both under international sanctions for their weapons programs.

Why this matters: The visit raises speculation that North Korea may seek to deepen military ties with Iran amid Russia's war with Ukraine, as both countries are known to be key providers of weapons to Moscow. Experts suggest that North Korea could seek help from Iran over solid-fuel missile technology, such as a ballistic missile tipped with a hypersonic warhead.

The trip is the first government delegation from North Korea to visit Iran in almost five years. While the KCNA report did not provide further details about the purpose or composition of the delegation, the news comes amid ongoing economic challenges faced by both North Korea and Iran due to international sanctions and other factors.

North Korea and Iran have a history of military cooperation, including North Korea providing Iran with Scud-B and Scud-C missiles during the Iran-Iraq war. The visit of the economic delegation led by Minister Yun Jong-ho could indicate that North Korea is seeking to strengthen both economic and military ties with Iran at a time when both countries are facing significant international pressure and isolation over their weapons programs and other activities.

Key Takeaways

  • North Korea sent an economic delegation to Iran, raising suspicions of weapons cooperation.
  • North Korea and Iran have a history of exchanging ballistic missile parts and technology.
  • The visit could indicate North Korea seeking to strengthen economic and military ties with Iran.
  • Both countries are under international sanctions for their weapons programs.
  • The trip is the first government delegation from North Korea to Iran in nearly 5 years.