Even a blog so obsessive about Iran as this one cannot in its right mind ignore what’s happening these days – media-wise and otherwise – in the Korean Peninsula. But since we are so incredibly obsessed, we’ll of course focus on the ties that bind.
First off, the fears: this Wall Street Journal report, despite its awkward headline, is worthwhile reading with regard to missed opportunities, the dangers of concrete knowhow sharing between Tehran and Pyongyang, as well as risks to Iranian nuclear crisis talks.
Not everyone believes that Iran is primed to follow precisely in North Korea’s footsteps. Take, for example, this analysis by Meir Javedanfar from a couple of weeks ago:
“if we look closer at the major differences between the economies and power structures of both countries, we could reach the opposite conclusion: that North Korea’s recent experience could in fact deter Iran from making and testing a nuclear weapon.”
“From Iran’s vantage point, the Korean crisis is a crisis of opportunity to pressure Western governments to show greater flexibility on the removal of sanctions for the sake of reaching an agreement with Tehran. In other words, Tehran definitely senses additional chips in its nuclear diplomacy introduced by the Korean crisis that can potentially worsen if the Iran nuclear crisis is worsened as a result of any breakdown in negotiations, thus bifurcating the US military’s attention.”
Particularly relevant as negotiators ready for another round of Almaty talks this Friday. According to this Foreign Policy report, recently retired senior White House official Gary Samore predicted that:
“if they agree to another round of meetings that will be the process continuing, but I think that it really is unrealistic to expect that there be some kind of breakthrough in these talks.”
This Al-Monitor report adds Samore’s belief that:
“I think it’s possible Iran could decide after the presidential elections to accept the small deal on the table now.”
Meanwhile, the centrifuges keep spinning. Who knows how many and how efficiently; to find out, we’ll just have to patiently wait until the June IAEA quarterly report – which by chance coincides, more-or-less, with the Iranian elections.
Among the many questions Almaty negotiators face, the one particularly staring them in the face is what lessons Tehran is taking away from the current crisis with North Korea. Samore seems to believe there’s time to wait and see. This Wall Street Journal report seems to back his view.
Then again, maybe not.
To be on the safe side, some advice from Ray Takeyh in his latest piece in The Washington Post:
“The best means of disarming Iran is to insist on a simple and basic red line: Iran must adhere to all the Security Council resolutions pertaining to its nuclear infractions. This implies establishing serious curbs on its activities in Natanz and not just being preoccupied with Fordow. To suggest or behave otherwise will only whet the appetite of strong-willed clerics sensitive to subtle shifts in their adversaries’ posture and power.”
Read carefully – both the lines, and between the lines.