On Sunday, an article in Germany’s conservative publication Die Welt reported that North Korea had carried out a nuclear test on behalf of Iran in 2010.
German analyst Hans Ruhle indicated that according to western intelligence agencies North Korea tested two nuclear weapons in 2010. Rühle points out that unlike in 2006 and 2009, when North Korea publicly boasted that it had conducted successful nuclear tests, the two tests carried out in 2010 were done in secrecy as to avoid any detection.
Rühle admits that it is plausible that North Korea has been secretly enriching uranium for its own purposes. However, the German analyst concludes that is far more likely that North Korea conducted these tests on behalf of a foreign entity – presumably Iran.
Rühle’s assessment seems to refute recent reports by American intelligence agencies which claim there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb. The New York Times recently reported that — though the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, has stated that Iran has accelerated its uranium enrichment program to much higher levels than needed for non-military usage, and has been developing military components for a nuclear bomb — the US intelligence community continues to hold the position that ‘hard evidence’ suggesting that Iran is in the process of developing nuclear weapons is still missing.
The publication of this report makes it harder for the U.S. to convince Israel — as well as its supporters in the U.S. — that diplomatic efforts to convince Iran to stop its pursuit of nukes should be given more time. It was certainly no coincidence that Rühle published his report on the eve of Netanyahu’s visit to the White House, and there is no doubt that his findings will add fuel to Netanyahu’s argument that the Iranian threat must be addressed immediately and decisively.