N. Korean economic delegation visits Iran: KCNA

AFP || Shining BD

Published: 4/24/2024 4:23:29 AM

A North Korean economic delegation has departed Pyongyang for Iran, the nuclear-armed country's official media reported Wednesday, on a rare visit that analysts said raises concerns of cooperation between the two states.

The delegation, led by external economic relations minister Yun Jong Ho, flew to Iran on Monday, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said in a one-sentence dispatch that offered no further details.

The visit comes after Pyongyang bolstered military ties with Moscow in recent months.

Seoul claims the North has sent around 7,000 containers of weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine, possibly in exchange for Moscow's technical assistance for its budding spy satellite programme.

Russia also recently used its Security Council veto power to upend UN sanctions monitoring on North Korea amid a probe into the alleged arms transfers, with Kim Jong Un's regime expressing its thanks after the vote.

Iran and Russia are also close military and political allies, with Moscow purportedly using Iranian drones in its war against Ukraine.

North Korea's visit comes after Iran launched its first-ever direct drone and missile attack on Israeli territory.

The barrage was in response to an April 1 air strike, widely blamed on Israel, that levelled an Iranian consular building in Damascus and killed seven Revolutionary Guards, two of them generals.

The trip signals Pyongyang's intention to expand and deepen its ties with Tehran, possibly by providing it with arms that could be needed in its confrontation with Israel, said Hong Min, a senior analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification.

"This visit deserves much attention given the ongoing situation involving Tehran and Jerusalem," he told AFP, adding that Tehran and Pyongyang were long-time allies who have cooperated on weapons programmes dating back to the 1980s.

In the same way that Pyongyang has provided Moscow with weapons, it could also do so for Tehran "in exchange for rewards such as oil and financial assistance", he added.

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