The old saying “truth is stranger than fiction” might just be more true than you realize. Because there’s a television program, one of my guilty pleasures, that may just have written a script that turns out to be true. And it’s a little freaky.

I’ve loved Homeland, the Showtime series set around Clare Danes’ bipolar CIA analyst Carrie Mathison, since it premiered in 2011. The show gets lots of stuff wrong, especially the way it has intelligence analysts like Carrie, and even the Deputy Director of Operations, working in the field. But it’s a drama, not a documentary. That said, many of the points driving the plot have proven eerily accurate.

Last year’s season, which was shooting during the summer of 2016 and premiered two days after President Trump’s inauguration, featured a false-flag terrorist attack in New York which was masterminded by rogue CIA employees and a super secret military unit, an Alex Jones-style character who manipulates the news through his online talk show and an army of social media “sock puppets,” and… the wholesale transfer of the Iranian nuclear program to North Korea. The first point is unrealistic but irresistible to Hollywood. The second is somewhat similar to what transpired during the election. The third may just have been a bullseye.

we keep tightening the noose, but it’s not working

North Korea called them “illegal.” President Trump, ever the New Yorker, called them “no big deal” and “nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen.” And the United Nations Security Council just hopes they’re effective.

On Monday, after a weekend of sideline negotiations between the U.S. and China, the Council approved yet another round of economic sanctions in an effort to drive North Korea away from its nuclear ambitions. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has conducted six nuclear tests and seemingly countless missile tests (well, enough that I’m not going to spend time counting them) since 2006. Since then, the UN has unanimously approved ever more restrictive sanctions nine times.

Despite all those sanctions, which now include severe restriction on selling oil to the DPRK and a ban on buying textiles from it, the nuclear program has continued. Not only has it continued, it’s accelerated faster than anyone thought possible. Someone has got to be helping. We discussed here how the DPRK missile technology is likely coming from a Ukrainian factory, but what about the warheads?

the iranian connection

As negotiators for the U.S., China, and Russia were hammering out the sanctions deal, London’s Sunday Telegraph was citing anonymous sources within the British national security hierarchy who revealed, without explicitly making the Homeland connection, their fears that Hollywood got this one right.

North Korea’s sudden advancement in developing nuclear weapons,” the article began, “may be due to secret support from Iran, British officials fear.” According to one government minister, “North Korean scientists are people of some ability, but clearly they’re not doing it entirely in a vacuum.”

It makes sense. Iran is under a microscope, or at least a large magnifying glass, as the U.S. continues to try to justify the Obama administration’s $1.3 billion in cash paid to the ayatollahs. If Iran is caught breaking the deal, all the sanctions that were eased come roaring back. But there can be little doubt that the clerics have not wavered from their desire to gain access to a weapon that will allow them to wipe Israel off the face of the map.

Transferring their knowledge, and maybe a few scientists, from Natanz to Punggye-ri is one way to do that while maintaining plausible deniability.

I know at least one retired senior member of the Clandestine Service who (after his retirement) served as an unofficial script advisor to the producers of Homeland. I wonder who else has been helping them with these ideas?

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Tom McCuin is a strategic communication consultant and retired Army Reserve Civil Affairs and Public Affairs officer whose career includes serving with the Malaysian Battle Group in Bosnia, two tours in Afghanistan, and three years in the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs in the Pentagon. When he’s not devouring political news, he enjoys sailboat racing and umpiring Little League games (except the ones his son plays in) in Alexandria, Va. Follow him on Twitter at @tommccuin