Last weekend, the world experienced a petrifying “wake up call” when Pyongyang test launched a hydrogen bomb. According to Yukiya Amano, director of the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), Sunday’s test represents “a new dimension to the threat.” Added Amano, “I think the North Korean threat is a global one now.
In the past, people thought it was a regional one, but that is no longer the case.”
Since 1994, when North Korea decided to pull out of the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), there has been a huge history of attempts to chain the North Korean nuclear beast, including efforts for military cooperation, sanctions and, of course, negotiations.
This has occurred under successive US administrations, including those of Bill Clinton, George W.
Bush and Barack Obama.
Now, the civilized world is forced to contend with a deranged North Korean despot, who is eager to take us to the brink. Our national security officials are confounded with what is the best route to protect the United States and its Pacific allies from the threat of nuclear annihilation.
As the US kicked the North Korean nuclear can down the road, under the delusion that it could only endanger its territory in Guam, or its Pacific allies of Japan and South Korea, we set ourselves up for a rude awakening. North Korean missiles are now capable of reaching the Western United States.
Because of our appeasement policies and our isolationist instincts which led us to close our eyes about what is happening a half a world away, the North Korean nuclear tiger is running wild.
North Korea has long been open for business in the export of nuclear and missile technology and knowledge to Iran, as we have known about since the early 1990s.
As military experts are pulling out their hair and playing out “war games” about what to do with Kim Jong Un’s brinkmanship, what lessons have we learned that we can apply to Iran? First of all, when dealing with rogue regimes with such abysmal human rights records toward their own citizens, what makes one think that they would treat international treaties or agreements any better? As Andrei Sakharov famously said, “A country which does not respect the rights of its own citizens will not respect the rights of its neighbors.”
In 1994, when president Bill Clinton announced his deal with North Korea, he declared, “This agreement is good for the United States, good for our allies, and good for the safety of the entire world.”
He said the deal required North Korea to “freeze [its] existing nuclear program and to accept international inspection of all existing facilities.” He also said the agreement “does not rely on trust. Compliance will be certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency.”
Similarly, on July 14, 2015, the day the nuclear agreement with Iran was agreed to, president Obama declared, “Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region. Because of this deal, the international community will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon.”
We now know, in both cases, that mere words do not necessarily make it so. Both nations have been using these international agreements simply as smoke screens to steadily work on their nuclear weapons programs as well as their missile delivery systems.
However, North Korea had to work clandestinely on both its missile delivery system and its nuclear bomb. Because the Obama administration was so hell-bent on striking a deal with the Iranians, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the “Iran nuclear deal,” exempted work on Iran’s missile delivery system from even being part of the discussion, and the Iranians are allowed to steadily work on their nuclear bomb, particularly within military sites, which they argued are off-limit to inspectors. So, the Iranians simply declared certain locations, such as Fordo, military bases.
The agreement simply allows the Iranians to work on their lethal design, with international consent, and allows them to break out within 10 years. Two years have elapsed.
In fact, Iran’s Defense Minister Gen. Amir Hatami declared last week that “In combat fields, especially in missiles, we have a specific plan to boost Iran’s power.”
And in terms of work on a nuclear bomb, the head of Iran’s atomic energy administration said on September 1 that “We [continued to allow for the existence of] Fordo in the JCPOA, so that if we want we can start enriching [uranium] up to 20% in five days.”
Next month, US President Donald Trump is going to be asked, once again, to certify Iranian compliance with the international standards imposed upon it by the JCPOA, as well as UN Resolution 2231. Many people think that America just has to certify compliance with the JCPOA, but according to American law the president must certify much more than that, every 90 days.
As US UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said at American Enterprise Institute this week, Public Law 114-17, (the Corker-Cardin Iranian Nuclear Review Act of 2015) does not simply expect the president to certify compliance with the JCPOA, but to also to consider “its violations of UN Resolution 2231, and its long history of aggression. We must consider the regime’s repeated, demonstrated hostility toward the United States. We must consider its history of deception about its nuclear program. We must consider its ongoing development of ballistic missile technology. And we must consider the day when the terms of the JCPOA sunset. That’s a day when Iran’s military may very well already have the missile technology that North Korea only recently developed.”
Thank you, Ambassador Haley.
It is bad enough that we are now being awoken to the nightmare of Kim Jong-un’s nuclear tiger running wild in the Pacific theater. But soon we will also be confronted with a nuclear-armed messianic theocracy with hegemonic, imperial aspirations, where every Friday after prayers the ayatollahs lead the chant of “Death to America. Death to Israel.”
The author is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, an unabashedly pro-American and pro-Israel think tank and policy institute in Washington, DC.