|A soldier stands guard in front of a rocket sitting on a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, during a guided media tour by North Korean authorities in the northwest of Pyongyang in this April 8, 2012 file photo. North Korea will launch a satellite in mid-December, the official KCNA news agency quoted officials as saying on December 1, 2012. The satellite would be launched between December 10-22, it quoted a spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology as saying. (REUTERS/Bobby Yip/Files)
TOKYO - Iran has stationed defence staff in North Korea since late October apparently to strengthen cooperation in missile and nuclear development, Japan’s Kyodo News agency reported on Sunday, citing a Western diplomatic source.
The report came as North Korea said on Saturday it would carry out its second rocket launch of 2012 between Dec. 10 and Dec. 22, near the first anniversary of the death of young leader Kim Jong-un’s father.
The Iranian mission, Kyodo said, is made up of four experts from Iran’s Ministry of Defence and firms close to it. Citing the source, it said they were staying at a military facility 85 km from the North Korean border with China.
The two countries signed an agreement to cooperate in science and technology earlier this year.
North Korea has had close ties with Iran. Leaked U.S. diplomatic cables from 2010 showed that U.S. officials believe Iran has acquired ballistic missile parts from North Korea.