(NationalSentinel)Â National Security: The Pentagon has long suspected that Iran and North Korea are sharing military technology, and now planners are taking a fresh look at how extensive that cooperation may be.
FoxÂ NewsÂ reports that in recent days, a failed ballistic missile launch from an Iranian “midget” submarine involved a boat and weapon design similar to North Korean systems:
When Iran attempted to launch a cruise missile from a â€œmidgetâ€ submarine earlier this week, Pentagon officials saw more evidence of North Korean influence in the Islamic Republic â€“ with intelligence reports saying the submarine was based on a Pyongyang design, the same type that sank a South Korean warship in 2010.
According to U.S. defense officials, Iran was attempting to launch a Jask-2 cruise missile underwater for the first time, but the launch failed. Nonproliferation experts have long suspected North Korea and Iran are sharing expertise when it comes to their rogue missile programs.
â€œThe very first missiles we saw in Iran were simply copies of North Korean missiles,â€ Jeffrey Lewis, a missile proliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, told Fox News. â€œOver the years, we’ve seen photographs of North Korean and Iranian officials in each other’s countries, and we’ve seen all kinds of common hardware.â€
Missile designs, especially, are very similar. Iranian Shahab missiles, for example, closely resemble North Korean Taepo Dong class ballistic missiles.
â€œIn the past, we would see things in North Korea and they would show up in Iran. In some recent years, we’ve seen some small things appear in Iran first and then show up in North Korea and so that raises the question of whether trade — which started off as North Korea to Iran — has started to reverse,â€ Lewis added.
North Korea successfully launched a missile from a submarine in 2015; Iran, so far, has not had similar success, but the development is ongoing.
One of the midget subs used by the North sank a 290-foot South Korean warship in 2010, killing 40 sailors. Pyongyang denied any involvement.
â€œWhen those midget subs are operating underwater, they are running on battery powerâ€”making themselves very quiet and hard to detect,â€ a U.S. defense official who declined to be identified toldÂ Fox News.
In testimony before Congress last week,Â Adm. Harry Harris, the head of American forces in the Pacific, told lawmakers the U.S. does not have any short- or medium-range ballistic missiles after signingÂ the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, treaty in 1987 between Russia and the United States. He said Iran and North Korea have no such constraints.
“We are being taken to the cleaners by countries that are not signatories to the INF,â€ Harris told the House Armed Services Committee.