Writing in Tablet, international affairs expert Lee Smith ties Iran's nuclear progress to that of North Korea, which has recently demonstrated, again, that it is a fully nuclear nation. There has been a long history of extremely close cooperation between North Korea and Iran, and it would be naive to assume that Iran has been struggling for nuclear status without outside help.
Smith's article should be read in its entirety, and is not overly technical or boring in any way. In fact, it's of vital interest. A few of his observations:
"The White House and President Obama’s supporters insist that he’s making his first trip to Israel next month to assure the Jewish state that if push comes to shove with Iran, he’ll have Israel’s back. But North Korea’s nuclear test Tuesday morning could indicate that it’s already too late for that. If North Korea has the bomb, then for all practical purposes Iran does, too. If that’s so, then Obama’s policy of prevention has failed, and containment—a policy that the president has repeatedly said is not an option—is in fact all Washington has.
"If this sounds hyperbolic, consider the history of extensive North Korean-Iranian cooperation on a host of military and defense issues, including ballistic missiles and nuclear development, that dates back to the 1980s. This cooperation includes North Korean sales of technology and arms, like the BM-25, a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and reaching Western Europe; Iran’s Shahab 3 missile is based on North Korea’s Nodong-1 and is able to reach Israel. Iran has a contingent of Iranian weapons engineers and defense officials stationed in North Korea. Meantime, North Korean scientists visit Iran. And last fall, both countries signed a memorandum of understanding regarding scientific, academic, and technological issues.
"Given all this, there’s a great deal of concern that, as one senior U.S. official told the New York Times, 'the North Koreans are testing for two countries.'”
This all makes sense, and only adds to what we know of Iran's own internal development program, as described by Benjamin Netanyahu last September at the United Nations. But Netanyahu might not have been considering the North Korean "wild card" in his warning.
Both Netanyahu and Smith have given us ample reason to assume that Iran will soon be a fully nuclear power - - - if it's not already. But the President of the United States, despite his constant remarks to the contrary (which are merely his successful attempts to secure the Jewish vote), despises Israel, and it is hard to imagine that he'd lose any sleep if Iran incinerated the country.
Smith concludes, accurately and pithily: "If this is the case, Obama will go down in history as the American president who presided over global nuclear proliferation, including rogue regimes. After four years of restraining the Israelis, he may now be going to visit them next month for a good reason: to apologize."
But he won't apologize, of course. When Israel stands naked in the face of her enemies - - - now including the United States - - - he'll smirk, just as his predecessor would have done.