Another noteworthy detail: According to a 2003 report in the L.A. Times, "So many North Koreans are working on nuclear and missile projects in Iran that a resort on the Caspian coast is set aside for their exclusive use."
Now the North seems to be gearing up for yet another test of its long-range Taepodong missile, and it's a safe bet Iranians will again be on the receiving end of the flight data. Nothing prevents them from sharing nuclear-weapons material or data, either, and the thought occurs that the North's second bomb test last week might also have been Iran's first. If so, the only thing between Iran and a bomb is a long-range cargo plane.
There are still good reasons why Japan would not want to go nuclear: Above all, it doesn't want to simultaneously antagonize China and the U.S. But the U.S. has even better reasons not to want to tempt Japan in that direction. Transparently feckless and time-consuming U.S. diplomacy with North Korea is one such temptation. Refusing to modernize our degraded stockpile of nuclear weapons while seeking radical cuts in the overall arsenal through a deal with Russia is another.
This, however, is the course the Obama administration has set for itself. Allies and enemies alike will draw their own conclusions.
Not that there's anything new about Pyonyang ponying up the plutonium party favors to assorted unsavory customers, mind you. What's noteworthy is the amount of activity along what was supposed, in these newly enlightened times, to be an Ex-Axis. It is understandable, then, that a host of actors will be watching very closely to judge the extent to which the US will act to counterbalance that activity. Will the US wait for the Security Council to obtain permission from Russia and China to issue a strongly-worded letter of concern, or will it take some more direct diplomatic and economic action? And if this fails to prompt the Norks to reconsider their behaviors?
So, now can we call it a Global War on Terror again?