How the Singapore Summit Could Affect North Korea’s Relationship with Iran

July 10 2018

At their meeting in June, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un reached a tentative agreement for Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear program, although not only do many details remain to be worked out but it is not even clear that the initial agreement will endure. Dany Shoham considers what impact these negotiations might have on Iran’s longstanding alliance with North Korea, which is based largely on sharing military technology:

Surreptitious Iranian-North Korean cooperation has a long history. Its main component is close technological cooperation in the fields of missiles and nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Each country has its own know-how that it contributes to that cooperation. Iran substantially foots the bill. . . .

How will Iranian-North Korean [relations] change [in the wake of a Washington-Pyongyang thaw]? First, [the two rogue regimes are] likely to strengthen their counterintelligence capabilities in order to maintain covert reciprocal activities. North Korean know-how regarding unconventional weapons—know-how that has not yet passed to Iran—will presumably be transferred. Iran might try hard to get Pyongyang to convey to Iran, rather than declare, any elite North Korean personnel and as yet undeclared critical technological components—and possibly actual weaponry—currently in North Korean facilities. Existing joint programs concerning missiles, particularly those designed to carry unconventional warheads, might be relocated in part to Iran. . . .

Iran has much to lose if North Korea entirely meets the requirements likely to be imposed by the U.S. and will endeavor to hamper any such development. The American-North Korean-Iranian triangle . . . has far-reaching strategic ramifications. The dynamics underlying it have two elements: the visible element of the recently established relationship between Pyongyang and Washington and the largely invisible element of Pyongyang’s long relationship with Tehran. The first element will be influenced by China, and perhaps also by Russia—but the second will retain its autonomy, its clandestine nature, and possibly its inaccessibility. This is a matter of serious concern, as Iran stands to be endowed with rescued North Korean assets. . . .

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More about: Chemical weapons, Donald Trump, Iran, 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