Issue Brief on “Iran-North Korea Relations: Friends in Isolation?”


A recent visit of a high-level North Korean delegation to Iran for attending President Hassan Rouhani’s swearing-in ceremony has raised many eyebrows in the international community. The visit by North Korea’s second most powerful man, Kim Yong Nam, head of the North Korean parliament came at a time when North Korea finds itself under fresh and heavier US backed-sanctions imposed by the United Nations. On the other hand, the US administration under President Trump has also imposed sanctions on Iran in response to its recent missile tests.  The visit also signals a strengthening of military, political and economic ties between two of the United States most feared rivals simultaneous to US efforts to isolate the two nations.

On August 3, 2017, Pyongyang’s second most powerful leader Kim Yong Nam- President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly visited Iran to attend President Hassan Rouhani’s swearing-in ceremony in Tehran. Kim Yong Nam was joined by Choe Hui Chol, the vice-minister of Foreign Affairs. This visit came at a time when President Trump has imposed new sanctions on Russia, North Korea and Iran, while there has also been an exchange of strong political rhetoric between North Korea and the US.

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