In an interview with RiskHedge, Middle East expert Dr. Theodore Karasik says current tensions with North Korea (DPRK) over the country’s nuclear program could ultimately draw Iran into a confrontation with the United States. “It’s important to understand,” explains Dr. Karasik, “that as we move into this confrontation with DPRK—which has an escalation ladder on it—it could drag Iran into this and the Gulf states.”
A senior advisor to Gulf State Analytics , Dr. Karasik says the nuclear relationship between North Korea and Iran isn’t well-known in the West.
“(Iranian nuclear scientists) practice their craft in Pyongyang’s nuclear laboratories” declares Dr. Karasik. “This aspect of the Tehran-Pyongyang relationship is not well understood. In fact, it’s not understood to the point that the third nuclear test that North Korea conducted a few years ago was actually perceived to be an Iranian bomb.”
North Korea’s third nuclear test in 2013 resulted in new sanctions being levied against the country via a unanimous vote by the United Nations Security Council.
“This (third nuclear test in 2013) is perceived to have been one where Iranian scientists were brought to Pyongyang… all materials were given to them. They needed to assemble the device in Pyongyang and then test it,” says Dr. Karasik. “So, the coordination between the two countries is important to understand because as events continue to drift towards confrontation, particularly with DPRK but also with Iran, the question becomes: how are these two powers going to react to the attention that’s being given to them in both very aggressive diplomatic ways but also in terms of kinetic responses?”
Dr. Karasik believes the United States isn’t prepared to deal with an Iranian response to war with North Korea. “My understanding is that the US is unaware of the North Korean presence in the Gulf region, and that this is a topic that needs further and very quick examination and coordination with our Gulf allies.”
Watch the full interview above.