The Pentagon is closely monitoring the recent failed launch of an Iranian underwater cruise missile from a midget submarine as evidence of influence by North Korea with the government in Tehran.

The Pyongyang connection theory has some merit as the design of both the sub and missile closely resemble a design of North Korea.

According to U.S. defense officials, Iran was attempting to launch a Jask-2 cruise missile underwater for the first time, but the launch failed. Nonproliferation experts have long suspected North Korea and Iran are sharing expertise when it comes to their rogue missile programs.

“The very first missiles we saw in Iran were simply copies of North Korean missiles,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a missile proliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. “Over the years, we’ve seen photographs of North Korean and Iranian officials in each other’s countries, and we’ve seen all kinds of common hardware.”

When Iran tested a ballistic missile in late January, the Pentagon said it was based on a North Korean design. Last summer, Iran conducted another missile launch similar to a North Korean Musudan, the most advanced missile Pyongyang has successful tested to date.

Defense analysts say North Korea’s Taepodong missile looks almost identical to Iran’s Shahab.

“In the past, we would see things in North Korea and they would show up in Iran. In some recent years, we’ve seen some small things appear in Iran first and then show up in North Korea and so that raises the question of whether trade — which started off as North Korea to Iran — has started to reverse,” Lewis added.

Midget submarines are small and hard to detect since they run on battery power. And the US no longer has any land-based short- or medium-range missiles because it is a signatory to the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, the treaty signed in 1987. But Iran and North Korea are under no such constraints since neither signed the treaty.

The site of the failed launch, the Strait of Hormuz is where most of the world’s oil passes thru daily and is a source of concern for the US and others.

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File Photo courtesy AP