May 28, 2023

Iran – DPRK Ties on the Increase

Iran may have invited Kim Jong Il to Tehran for visit

News has surfaced that Iran has invited Kim Jong Il to Tehran in order to ‘to further economic ties’.  The invitation comes in the context of a flurry of recent diplomatic contact between the two states.  Two weeks ago an Iranian delegation led by Vice-Minister Mohammad Ali Fathollahi met with Kim Yong Nam, de facto head of the North Korean state, to hold talks regarding ‘bilateral political, economic and cultural relations’ and ‘international and regional issues’.  Last week Iran’s ‘Press TV’ subsequently reported that Kim Yong Nam will now visit Iran in summer, to sign a ‘scientific and cultural exchange program’ between the two countries.

Even if suggestions that Kim Jong-Il has an aversion to flight are true (and thus the idea of him visiting Tehran unfeasible), that the invitation was sent is nevertheless significant.  Indeed, it marks the sign of the highest possible diplomatic contact between the two countries since their recognition of other diplomatically in 1979.  Given their shared history of missile collaboration, it also raises questions about that and other areas North Korea and Iran might in future cooperate in.