Iran has sent a team of defense specialists for a long-term stay in North Korea, a move that is seen as evidence of the two nations' growing ties in the nuclear and missile development spheres, Kyodo News reported on Saturday.
Establishment of a permanent Iranian presence in the North follows the two nations' inking of a technology collaboration accord in September.
An anonymous Western envoy told the Japanese news agency that Iran has installed four specialists from its Defense Ministry and private industry at a North Korean armed forces site not far from China. The officials answer to Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi and are not permitted to communicate with Tehran's diplomatic envoys in North Korea, according to the Western source.
The North is interested in benefiting from Iranian advancements in civil engineering while Tehran wants help from Pyongyang in building compact warheads and in developing ballistic missile components that can separate in flight, according to the source.
The North is open about its pursuit of a nuclear arsenal, while Iran says there is no military component to its atomic program.