WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Researchers at Johns Hopkins University said there are signs Iranians may be helping the North Koreans with Pyongyang's rocket program.
North Korea in December orbited a satellite using a rocket that put the U.S. West Coast within reach. Similar launches in 2006 and 2009 coincided with North Korea nuclear test. Pyongyang announced Tuesday it carried out its third underground test of a nuclear device.
Blog 38 North, an arm of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said its analysis of satellite imagery taken in January indicates preparations for an upcoming test of a liquid-fueled rocket.
It said imagery of a new launch pad shows Pyongyang may be able to test rockets "three to four times" the size of the rocket deployed in December.
"Analysis of construction activities around the new launch pad has revealed evidence that Pyongyang's rocket program may be receiving assistance from Iran," the report stated.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told The Washington Post that upcoming nuclear talks with Iran were vital given recent North Korean developments. Iran is suspected of pursing a nuclear weapons program, an allegation Tehran denies.
Johns Hopkins analysis, however, from early this week notes that North Korea doesn't have the ability to deploy a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile.