Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun reported today that a 15-member delegation of Iranian missile experts is in North Korea to help Pyongyang prepare for a rocket launch. The newspaper said the group had arrived in Pyongyang in early March.
Iranian Embassy in Tokyo issued a statement rejecting the claim. The Embassy said Sankei Shimbun report was “politically-motivated,” and rejected any missile or military cooperation between Iran and the North Korea [IRNA, 29 March].
Sankei Shimbun said the Iranian delegation included senior officials with Iranian rocket and satellite producer Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group.
The Iranians reportedly brought a letter from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il stressing the importance of cooperating on space technology [Sankei Shimbun, 29 March].
Pyongyang announced last month that it would launch satellite Kwangmyongsong-2 into orbit as part of its space program sometime between April 4 and April 8. The US, South Korea, and Japan maintain that North Korea has plans to test a long-range missile -- the Taepodong-2.
The USS McCain and the USS Chafee warships joined Japanese and South Korean warships in the Sea of Japan on Thursday. Pyongyang has warned that shooting down its rocket would be regarded as an act of war.