Policymakers and everyday citizens around the world breathed a sigh of relief last winter when tensions between the U.S. and North Korea were dialed down and a fruitful dialogue began. Now the Korean situation is headed for a summit between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12.
That’s a huge improvement over the path to war that both sides were treading last fall. Meanwhile, tensions with Iran have increased significantly as a result of Iran’s violations of its deal to stop its nuclear weapons program and Trump’s decision to reimpose financial sanctions on Iran. One crisis has been alleviated, at least temporarily, while a second crisis has emerged.
This article takes a different and much more original view. It makes the point that the North Korean and Iranian nuclear crises are inextricably linked. Iran buys weapons systems from North Korea, paid for partly with the gold that Obama handed over to Iran in 2015 as a bribe for Iran to enter into its deal with the U.S. North Korea also built a nuclear reactor in Syria, sponsored by Iran, which Israel bombed to rubble in 2007.
Trump has taken a “get tough” approach with both North Korea and Iran in contrast with Obama, Bush 43 and Clinton, who either did nothing or were duped by Iran and North Korea with false promises of restraint. Six months from now we may be back on a path to war with North Korea while pursuing new negotiations with Iran, a reversal of the situation today.
It helps to look at Iran and North Korea holistically as a test of the West’s willingness to stop nuclear proliferation. North Korea and Iran may take turns playing “good cop, bad cop” with the U.S. But Trump has shown a great deal of focus and consistency in his dealings with both. For Trump, this is the ultimate art of the deal.
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