North Korea Shows How Iran Nuclear Deal Will Fail

More than thirty years ago, North Korea and South Korea signed a declaration of “denuclearization” renouncing the reprocessing of plutonium, the enrichment of uranium and the development, testing or possession of ‘nuclear weapons. To reach an agreement, the United States withdrew its own nuclear missiles from South Korea and canceled its annual military exercises. Secretary of State James Baker welcomed. “American diplomacy [was] directly responsible for ending six years of northern intransigence. The deal appeased Washington but did not derail Pyongyang’s ambitions. Fourteen years later, North Korea conducted its first nuclear test. It was not the last time that a US president claimed that a limited nuclear deal ended the nuclear desire of proliferators.

The thieves know that the tightrope strategy against the United States works. Thirteen months after the US declaration of victory, North Korea has threatened to quit the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) over concerns over Pyongyang’s nuclear activities. The Kim regime’s nuclear escalation should have raised red flags in Washington, but failed to do so. Instead, the diplomacy cheerleaders preferred to blame the Americans for those failures. As a remedy, President Bill Clinton briefly considered military action, but decided against it, and by the end of the year all signs of progress had evaporated. North Korea threatened to turn Seoul into a “sea of ​​fire” and Pyongyang again blocked inspections.

Clinton sought to keep North Korea in the NPT at all costs. “If North Korea could evade treaty obligations with impunity just when its nuclear program appeared poised to produce weapons, it would have dealt a devastating blow from which the treaty may never recover,” said US negotiator Robert Gallucci.

It was about not seeing the forest for the trees. The scramble to preserve the limited deal has blinded Washington to Pyongyang’s greatest interest: preventing inspectors from sites that demonstrate nuclear work. Like the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear today, the goal appeared more for the president to show “the paper which bears his name on it as well as mine” than to prevent the seizure of power by an adversary.

Clinton finally struck a deal — the agreed framework of 1994 — that, in theory, put North Korea’s nuclear program in a box. But, he did no such thing. Instead, the deal ignored past violations of the NPT by Pyongyang and provided the Kim regime with a $4 billion payout.

Unfortunately, the George W. Bush administration repeated this pattern. Nearly eight years after signing the framework agreement, North Korea has admitted to pursuing a secret uranium enrichment program after US intelligence confronted them. President Bush first listed Pyongyang as a member of his ‘Axis of Evil’, but six years later paid the Kim regime $2.5 million for the political theater of the research center explosion Yongbyon nuclear scientist.

Today, the same pattern is repeating itself with only minor variations in the negotiations with Iran. When, in July 2015, the P5+1 – the US, France, Germany, UK, Russia and China – agreed on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran , politicians sang his praises. We have “achieved something that decades of animosity failed to achieve – a comprehensive, long-term deal with Iran that will keep it from getting a nuclear weapon,” President Barack Obama said. The Biden administration is repeating this pattern with a singular focus on returning to the expiring limited nuclear deal.

Therein lies two problems with the limited Iran nuclear deal.

First, the JCPOA does not address Iran’s past and future covert nuclear activities. The agreement set out an inspection regime for Iran’s declared nuclear facilities. While JCPOA supporters claim the deal includes strict inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – a questionable claim – what is certain is that the IAEA was not at the aware of Tehran’s undeclared nuclear activities before Israel stole Iran’s nuclear archive in 2018. comprehensive package ever negotiated to oversee a nuclear program”. He added“At the end of the day, if Iran cheats, we can catch them – and we will.”

Iran has also consistently blocked full inspections, especially of sites it has defined as military. Indeed, it has always been among the red lines Speak clearly by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In February 2021, Iran reduced the IAEA’s ability to monitor Tehran’s nuclear program. While supporters will blame President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA, this agreement did not supplant Iran’s NPT commitments which it again violates. Countries don’t reduce surveillance if they have nothing to hide. It is possible to hide a centrifuge cascade. The Institute for Science and International Security estimates that if Iran used its current stockpile of enriched uranium in a clandestine cascade of 650 IR-6s, a configuration that could be placed in a small warehouse, it could manufacture enough weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon. in about a month.

Second, the 2015 agreement does not address Tehran’s cooperation with North Korea. The UN panel of experts determined that Iran and North Korea resumed cooperation on long-range missiles in 2020. North Korea’s weapons program has progressed since its first nuclear test in October 2006. Pyongyang can provide lessons learned or specific techniques to help Iran’s weapons efforts. . Certainly, the renewal of the Islamic Republic’s resources following sanctions relief, waivers and new foreign investment could allow Iran to finance this cooperation from a North Korean regime that is ready to sell weapons and missile technologies to the highest bidder. At a minimum, Pyongyang could provide expertise and information allowing Tehran to shorten its militarization schedule. The work could take place in North Korea or Iran if Tehran does not allow any offsite work by Iranian scientists. All of this covert activity would be difficult to detect and disrupt.

The nuclear negotiations with North Korea have shown us that limited nuclear agreements allow the proliferator the time and space to develop nuclear weapons. President Joe Biden must reject the mistakes of his predecessors and insist on a longer, stronger deal that eliminates Iran’s path to nuclear weapons.

Anthony Ruggiero and Michael Rubin are Senior Fellows at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the American Enterprise Institute, respectively.

Image: Reuters