Iran is running a global recruiting network for scientists, in efforts to bring them to the country to work on its nuclear program, officials told the UK newspaper The Telegraph.
The officials claim the country relies particularly on North Korean scientists, but also looks for people with nuclear expertise from African countries to focus on developing missiles and other nuclear production activities, according to The Telegraph.
The arrangement involves North Korea sending technology and scientists to Iran, in exchange for Iranian money and testing facilities, the officials said.
The Telegraph quoted Mohamed Reza Heydari, a former Iranian consul in Oslo, who said he had personally helped several North Koreans come to Iran while working for the foreign ministry.
“Our mission was to coordinate with a team from the Ministry of Intelligence in checking the visas of the foreign diplomatic and trade delegates who visited Iran, with special attention to VIPs,” The Telegraph quoted Heydari as saying.
“We had the instructions to forego any visa and passport inspections for Palestinians belonging to Hamas and North Korean military and engineering staff who visit Iran on regular basis.”
“The North Koreans were all technicians and military experts involved in two aspects of Iran’s nuclear program. One to enable Iran to achieve nuclear bomb capability, and the other to help increase the range of Iran’s ballistic missiles,” he said.
Heydari added that, “In all our embassies abroad, especially in the African countries, the staff of foreign ministry were always looking for local scientists and technicians who were experts in nuclear technology and offered them lucrative contracts to lure them into Iran.
“The façade of the nuclear program is that it is for peaceful purposes, but behind it they have a completely different agenda.”