North Korea earns over US$2 billion annually in arms deals with Iran, according to Larry Niksch, a specialist in Asian affairs with the U.S. Congressional Research Service.
Niksch made the claim at a conference Tuesday hosted by the Cato Institute in Washington on China's role in North Korean affairs. He called on China to block flights between Pyongyang and Tehran in addition to financial sanctions against the Stalinist country.
Scientists and engineers as well as missiles, missile parts and technical drawings for missiles are being transferred by air between the North and Iran, he claimed, adding flights between Pyongyang and Tehran should be a key target for sanctions against the North.
Niksch said Iran, Syria, and Burma have recently become major customers of North Korea. Given the scale of arms deals between North Korea and Iran, China should block such deals by banning overflights, he said.
He claimed all food aid from China to North Korea has been diverted to soldiers, and therefore if China reduces food aid to the North, this will have a substantial pressure effect.