North Korea Shows Dangers of Half-Deal With Iran
By Gary Milhollin
February 25, 2013
Negotiators from the world’s major powers sit down with Iran this week for more talks on its nuclear program, just weeks after North Korea tested another nuclear weapon.
If the connection between these two events isn’t obvious, it should be: North Korea’s nuclear saga is a cautionary tale for anyone attempting to bargain with the Islamic Republic.
Back in the 1980s, when suspicions were first raised about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, the country’s leadership was keen to distract attention with a show of clean hands. It joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, promised not to make the bomb and said it would report the whereabouts of all its nuclear material to international inspectors.
Iran has been hiding nuclear work and sites since about the same time, although it was one of the treaty’s original signatories. Like Iran, North Korea was soon suspected of hiding things after that initial show of clean hands. It stiffed inspectors and made lame excuses for doing so. And, like Iran, North Korea built plants that generated fissile material that was useful for making bombs, but unnecessary for producing civilian nuclear power.
By 1994, matters had come to a head. North Korea’s lies were bolder, and the pace of its nuclear program had accelerated. Its scientists, rounding the last turn, could see the finish line. The U.S. and other world powers had to decide how to stop them: Would it be United Nations resolutions, or economic sanctions, or war?
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