The alleged father of Iran's nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, is believed to have been present in North Korea last week in order to observe its third nuclear test, Britain's The Sunday Times reported citing Western intelligence sources.
Pictured: Kim Yong-Nam arrives at NAM conference in Tehran. Photo: REUTERS/Handout
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According to the sources, Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi was responsible for the development of a warhead "small enough to fit on to one of the ballistic missiles developed by Iran from North Korean prototypes," the report stated.
North Korea said its test on Tuesday had "greater explosive force" than the 2006 and 2009 tests, which were widely seen as small-scale.
The report echoes comments made earlier in the week by a security expert that the nuclear test may have also been carried out on behalf of Iran, and in the presence of Iranian atomic scientists.
North Korea is making progress both in its nuclear weapons capabilities and its ICBM missile research, Dr. Alon Levkowitz, coordinator of Bar-Ilan University's Asian Studies Program and a member of the BESA Center for Strategic Studies, told The Jerusalem Post.
"The most disturbing question is whether the Iranians are using North Korea as a backdoor plan for their own nuclear program. The Iranians didn't carry out a nuclear test in Iran, but they may have done so in North Korea," Levkowitz said. "There is no official information on this... but Iran may have bypassed inspections via North Korea. If true, this is a very worrying development."
Speaking to the Post in April, sources highly familiar with North Korea said a nuclear test was imminent, and that Iranian scientists could be present at the explosion site. During North Korea's previous two nuclear detonations, Iranian nuclear scientists were present, according to several indicators, Levkowitz said.
It remains unclear whether the North Koreans detonated a plutonium- based nuclear device or one that was based on enriched uranium on Tuesday. The latter option would further suggest increased cooperation with Iran, he added.
SOURCE: The Jerusalem Post