What does the West need to do to stop Iran from becoming North Korea?

September 5, 2017 23:24

The North Korea situation is showing the West that once it is too late, its options are limited.

2 minute read.

Iran missile

A ballistic missile is launched and tested in an undisclosed location, Iran, March 9, 2016. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

“What people need to understand is that Iran can be where North Korea is” in a short time, Dr. Emily Landau, an INSS expert on the two countries, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

To prevent this from happening, the world must up its game “in devising a strategy to increase pressure on Iran” with a combination of increased truly biting sanctions, isolation and the threat of a military option, she said.

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Landau was discussing the crisis developing day-by-day with North Korea, including Pyongyang’s recent possible test of a hydrogen bomb and possible demonstration of mastering intercontinental ballistic missile technology for hitting the US.

Landau said there have always been concerns about the North transferring nuclear weapons technology to Iran, since “they are ready to share and sell to anyone as long as they get hard cash... this has been going on for years.”

But there is a new, distinct concern. Before the concern was Pyongyang’s sharing atom bomb technology with Iran. But after the North’s latest nuclear bomb test, which registered as far more powerful than past tests, that same sharing technology could mean sharing hydrogen bomb technology, said Landau.

Atom bombs split atoms using nuclear fission to release energy in the 20 kilotons of TNT range, whereas hydrogen bombs fuse atoms together using nuclear fusion to release energy in the 10,000 kilotons of TNT range.

Analyzing the North Korean situation in more detail, she said, “Preemptive action would be pretty dangerous at this point... It will elicit a North Korean response... which could be very strong... and escalate into a really bad war... with many casualties.”

The arms control expert continued, “We weigh such a war against the only other strategy, which is deterrence, and at this very late stage there is really no choice but to move toward deterrence. It is a very gloomy situation.”

Especially because the North Korea situation is showing the West that once it is too late, its options are limited, Landau said it is crucial to bring pressure on Iran, including “getting access to their military facilities and clandestine” nuclear activities.

These clandestine sites, which are outside the IAEA’s inspections regime, and attempts that, according to German intelligence, Iran is making to illicitly procure components for its nuclear program outside of official channels, are what Landau says that the West needs to access.

“Blind reliance on the JCPOA [2015 nuclear deal] and the IAEA giving certifications” that Iran is complying with the agreement with the West “are not enough,” she said.

If pressure is the key, Landau said that the EU is sending the exact wrong message, with its foreign policy chief, Federica “Mogherini, recently flattering [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani and showing more interest in economic deals, rather than moving to isolation and more sanctions.”

She also took issue with arms control experts and Western officials who helped push through the Iran nuclear deal and who continue to support the friendly negotiations model in the face of the North Korean crisis.

Landau said that pressure in the case of the Islamic Republic is also important as “there is no magic military option either,” since “Iran’s nuclear program is already so dispersed in so many facilities.”

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