Tehran Trades Oil for Nukes

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The collaboration between the world's foremost nuclear proliferators appears to be accelerating.

In September 2012, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea signed a bilateral scientific and technological agreement opening the way for nuclear as well as missile technology collaboration. In February 2013, North Korea tested, no doubt with Iranian scientists observing, a nuclear device which U.S. experts suspect may be based upon highly enriched uranium. A report just surfaced in Washington that North Korea may have acquired the capability to miniaturize nuclear warheads for delivery by ballistic missiles, another technological area in which Pyongyang is ahead of Tehran. And now, a North Korean delegation visits Iran to conclude a deal involving major exports of Iranian oil.

In a press conference on April 21, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Ghasemi announced that an agreement between Iran and North Korea was signed and Iran will export 100,000 barrels of oil per day to North Korea. North Korea has no crude oil reserves of its own. This is a huge deal and North Korea does not have the cash to pay for it.

What would be of more value to Tehran than cash for its oil? Nuclear cooperation, of course.

The beauty of this trade deal from Tehran's perspective is that North Korea becomes the Iranian regime's reliable supplier of nuclear weapon and missile technology, along with natural or enriched uranium, in exchange for exported Iranian oil, which meets Pyongyang's need for oil while at the same time effectively by-passing U.S. and European Union oil and financial sanctions.

The Iranian nuclear issue grows more serious with each passing month. The head of the regime's Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, who also has been involved in nuclear weapons research, announced publicly that highly enriched uranium may be needed in the future to power submarines and other vessels. Suddenly, the regime is now speaking of nuclear-powered submarines whereas previously requirements for highly enriched uranium presumably were confined to civil nuclear power plants and medical research reactors.

The U.S. government needs a strategy that halts the Iranian regime's nuclear program and prevents nuclear cooperation between the regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang. Current U.S. policy calls for the Iranian regime to give up its relentless pursuit of a nuclear capability or confront a military attack launched against its nuclear facilities.

At some point the U.S. government will recognize that the Tehran regime will never forego its nuclear program and that resorting to a military attack will only delay, not end the program, and also will harm the democratic movement under way in Iran. It is time for new Secretary of State John Kerry to consider another alternative that would stop the nuclear program and sever the collaboration between Tehran and Pyongyang.

The National Council of Iran will be conducting its inaugural meeting in Paris on April 27-28 and will present a path to a free, democratic Iran. The National Council's transition to democracy in Iran warrants the careful consideration and support of the free world and specifically, the United States. The Charter of the National Council of Iran will present a blueprint to bring about the end of the Tehran regime and establish a free and democratic country.

One in which the elected government is responsive to the needs of its citizens and meets its obligations as a responsible member of the international community playing a constructive role in regional and world affairs.

Amir Fakhravar is President of the Iranian Freedom Institute, Secretary General of the Confederation of Iranian Students, and a former political prisoner of the Islamic Republic. He is presently a Research Fellow and Visiting Lecturer at the Institute of World Politics. G. William Heiser is a former official in the Reagan National Security Council Staff and is an Advisor to the Iranian Freedom Institute and the Confederation of Iranian Students.

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