North Korea Sticks a Finger in Trump's Eyes as Iran Rubs Salt in America's Wounds
There are two developments of note today that are almost certainly related and geared to put further pressure on US President, Donald Trump’s national security team.
First, North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, called President Trump, "deranged," and warned that the US will "pay dearly" for his threats. Last night, the North Korea’s Foreign Minister threatened that Pyongyang would detonate a thermonuclear device over the Pacific Ocean in what would be the first above ground or atmospheric nuclear test since 1980. Earlier this week in a Speech before the UN General Assembly President Trump warned that the US would destroy North Korea if it attacked its neighbors or the US. Shortly thereafter, the People’s Bank of China announced it was directing all other banks in China to halt financial transactions with North Korea and President Trump signed an executive order expanding the US ability to freeze the assets of banks or individuals doing business with Pyongyang. There is an expectation that North Korea would test-fire an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) over Japan and out into the Northern Pacific, and there were indications that they might conduct another nuclear test well in advance of this week’s events.
Second, in a further move to rub salt in old wounds, on Friday, Iran showed off its Khoramshahr Medium Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM) for the first time in public during a military parade in Tehran. The Khoramshahr MRBM has an estimated range of 2000-2500 kilometers and was last test-fired in February. It is believed that the Khoramshahr MRBM is a derivative of the North Korean BM-25 Musudan Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) with an estimated range of 4000 kilometers with a 500-kilogram payload. The public display of Khoramshahr MRBM today was likely geared to demonstrate the close cooperation between Tehran and Pyongyang in the realm of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles to deliver them and to put further pressure on the Trump administration as it wrestles with both rogue powers. President Trump has threatened to renegotiate the Obama Iran deal that limits Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for ending sanctions. Following its thermonuclear test earlier this month North Korea dispatched a high-level delegation to Tehran. There are even rumors that North Korea is holding nuclear weapons grade material for Iran.
Strategically, with the end of sanctions, Tehran is now flush with cash, something North Korea needs in terms of hard currency, and there is every expectation that North Korea is sharing its technological edge with Iran in exchange for money. Lastly, there are increasing fears that with North Korean assistance that Iran is on its way to developing a two-stage, solid-fuel, nuclear-capable ICBM capable of striking Europe and the US.