What Iran Learned from North Korea about Nuclear Weapons

Sept. 7 2017

As North Korea has become ever bolder in showing off its ability to create nuclear weapons, writes Anthony Ruggiero, Tehran has been watching closely to see how it can emulate Pyongyang’s success:

North Korea . . . authored the playbook now being used by Iran to fleece the United States and its allies. And if the United States fails to neutralize the North Korean threat, Iran will notice how the United States buckles in the face of nuclear pressure.

The Islamic Republic has already learned a number of damaging lessons from North Korea. First, cheating on nuclear deals is permitted. North Korea cheated twice, and we kept coming back for more. President Bill Clinton announced the 1994 Agreed Framework as a deal that would “freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program,” but Pyongyang violated the agreement when it started a covert uranium-enrichment program.

Washington tried another nuclear deal with the Kim regime, negotiating the 2005 Joint Statement, but North Korea built a nuclear reactor in Syria during the negotiations. The reactor was eventually destroyed by Israel in 2007. Normally that would have ended negotiations, proving that North Korea was not a serious interlocutor. Instead, the Kim regime was rewarded for its nuclear proliferation when the Bush administration removed it from the state-sponsors-of-terrorism list in 2008. . . .

The number of Iranian violations detailed by the UN secretary-general António Guterres in a recent report is stunning. Two Iranian attempts to procure missile components, aircraft parts, and anti-tank missile components from Ukraine were thwarted over a period of just six months. How many others have gotten through? Iran also continues its shipment of arms to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, in violation of two UN Security Council resolutions. . . .

While Iran has learned many lessons from North Korea, Washington should have learned a few, too. The most significant is that flawed, limited nuclear deals do not solve strategic issues.

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More about: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Iran nuclear program, North Korea, Nuclear proliferation, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

By Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan, the U.S. Has Freed Israel from “Land for Peace”

March 25 2019

In the 52 years since Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria, there have been multiple efforts to negotiate their return in exchange for Damascus ending its continuous war against the Jewish state. Shmuel Rosner argues that, with his announcement on Thursday acknowledging the legitimacy of Jerusalem’s claim to the Golan, Donald Trump has finally decoupled territorial concessions from peacemaking:

[With] the takeover of much of Syria by Iran and its proxies, . . . Israel had no choice but to give up on the idea of withdrawing from the Golan Heights. But this reality involves a complete overhaul of the way the international community thinks not just about the Golan Heights but also about all of the lands Israel occupied in 1967. . . .

Withdrawal worked for Israel once, in 1979, when it signed a peace agreement with Egypt and left the Sinai Peninsula, which had also been occupied in 1967. But that also set a problematic precedent. President Anwar Sadat of Egypt insisted that Israel hand back the entire peninsula to the last inch. Israel decided that the reward was worth the price, as a major Arab country agreed to break with other Arab states and accept Israel’s legitimacy.

But there was a hidden, unanticipated cost: Israel’s adversaries, in future negotiations, would demand the same kind of compensation. The 1967 line—what Israel controlled before the war—became the starting point for all Arab countries, including Syria. It became a sacred formula, worshiped by the international community.

What President Trump is doing extends far beyond the ability of Israel to control the Golan Heights, to settle it, and to invest in it. The American president is setting the clock back to before the peace deal with Egypt, to a time when Israel could argue that the reward for peace is peace—not land. Syria, of course, is unlikely to accept this. At least not in the short term. But maybe someday, a Syrian leader will come along who doesn’t entertain the thought that Israel might agree to return to the pre-1967 line and who will accept a different formula for achieving peace.

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More about: Donald Trump, Golan Heights, Israel & Zionis, Peace Process, Sinai Peninsula, Syria