North Korean nuclear, missile experts visit Iran

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the test-fire of a strategic submarine underwater ballistic missile (not pictured), in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on May 9, 2015. REUTERS / KCNA

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the test-fire of a strategic submarine underwater ballistic missile (not pictured), in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on May 9, 2015. REUTERS / KCNA

Reuters (June 1) — An exiled Iranian opposition group said on Thursday that a delegation of North Korean nuclear and missile experts visited a military site near Tehran in April amid talks between world powers and Iran over its nuclear programme.

The dissident National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) exposed Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy water facility at Arak in 2002. Analysts say it has a mixed record and a clear political agenda.

Iran says allegations that is trying to develop a nuclear weapons capability are baseless and circulated by its enemies.

Iran and six world powers are trying to meet a self-imposed June 30 deadline to reach a comprehensive deal restricting its nuclear work. Issues remaining include monitoring measures to ensure it cannot pursue a clandestine nuclear weapons programme.

Citing information from sources inside Iran, including within Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Paris-based NCRI said a seven-person North Korean Defence Ministry team was in Iran during the last week of April. This was the third time in 2015 that North Koreans had been to Iran and a nine-person delegation was due to return in June, it said.

“The delegates included nuclear experts, nuclear warhead experts and experts in various elements of ballistic missiles including guidance systems,” the NCRI said.

The Iranian embassy in France dismissed the report.

“Such fabricated reports are being published as we get closer to final stages of the talks and also because there is a high chance of reaching a final deal,” Iran’s state website IRIB quoted an unnamed Paris-based Iranian diplomat as saying.

In Washington, the State Department said it was examining the claims but had been unable to confirm them.

“These allegations, we’re taking them seriously,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters. “We have not been able to verify them thus far.”

There have previously been unconfirmed reports of cooperation between the two countries on ballistic missiles, but nothing specific in the nuclear field.

The U.N. Panel of Experts which monitors compliance with sanctions on North Korea has reported in the past that Pyongyang and Tehran have regularly exchanged ballistic missile technology in violation of U.N. sanctions.

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