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Fresh U.S. sanctions show Iran's close ballistic missile cooperation with North Korea

All News 07:56 January 18, 2016

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (Yonhap) -- Fresh U.S. sanctions over Iran's ballistic missile program showed Sunday that Tehran has worked closely with North Korea to move its missile program forward.

The Treasury Department sanctioned 11 individuals and entities for involvement in procurement on behalf of Iran's ballistic missile program. The sanctions were a punishment for Iran's test-firing in October of a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead in violation of a U.N. ban.

The Treasury said three of the sanctioned Iranian officials have had close ties with the North.

One of them, Sayyed Javad Musavi, is a commercial director of the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG), a subsidiary of Iran's Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO) under Iran's Ministry of Defense for Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL).

"Musavi has worked directly with North Korean officials in Iran from the U.N.- and U.S.-designated Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID)," the Treasury said in a statement.

KOMID is North Korea's primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons, and has been sanctioned by the U.S. and the United Nations.

"SHIG also coordinates KOMID shipments to Iran. The shipments have included valves, electronics, and measuring equipment suitable for use in ground testing of liquid propellant ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles," the Treasury said.

"Within the past several years, Iranian missile technicians from SHIG traveled to North Korea to work on an 80-ton rocket booster being developed by the North Korean government," it said.

The two other Iranian officials with ties to the North are SHIG Director Seyed Mirahmad Nooshin and Sayyed Medhi Farahi, deputy of MODAFL. The Treasury said the two have been "critical to the development of the 80-ton rocket booster, and both traveled to Pyongyang during contract negotiations."

The U.S. lifted nuclear sanctions on Iran on Saturday in exchange for Tehran's fulfillment of its commitments to curb its nuclear program under July's landmark deal with world powers.

The lifting of sanctions came together with a prisoner swap in which four Americans and seven Iranians were exchanged. The U.S. had held off the announcement of the new missile sanctions in order not to derail the prisoner exchange.

On Sunday, U.S. President Barack Obama touted the full implementation of the historic nuclear deal and the prisoner exchange as victories of "strong American diplomacy" that doesn't fear pursuing diplomacy even with adversaries.

"This is a good day, because, once again, we're seeing what's possible with strong American diplomacy," Obama said in a statement from the White House.

Obama said the nuclear deal will make the world more secure as "Iran will not get its hands on a nuclear bomb." Nuclear diplomacy with Iran has also created a better atmosphere to address other issues like the prisoner swap and last week's release of U.S. Navy sailors from Iran, he said.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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