Iran congratulated North Korea on Wednesday for its “successful” launch of a long-range rocket, an incident which provoked global condemnation, and denied having a role in preparing the launch.
Tehran “congratulates the people and the government” of North Korea on “the successful launching of the satellite-carrying rocket,” Iran’s armed forces deputy chief, Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, told the Fars news agency.
North Korea said Wednesday’s launch had successfully put a scientific satellite in orbit, and insisted that the mission was not an intercontinental missile test banned under UN Security Council sanctions.
The United States and its allies reacted angrily, and even China expressed “regret” at the launch by its wayward communist ally.
Jazayeri’s comments came two days after a South Korean newspaper reported a number of Iranian missile experts were in North Korea offering technical assistance for the launch.
The report was immediately denied by Iran’s foreign ministry.
The defence ministry also issued a statement on Wednesday, vehemently denying its experts were in North Korea and denying that they “cooperated in the launch of a ballistic missile.”
Pyongyang and Tehran are both under UN Security Council sanctions for their ballistic missile and nuclear programmes.
Earlier this month, a Western diplomatic source claimed Iran had stationed defence personnel in North Korea since October to strengthen cooperation in missile and nuclear development.
A 2011 UN sanctions report said Tehran and Pyongyang were suspected of sharing ballistic missile technology.