The news that a delegation of Iranian nuclear scientists was in North Korea this past weekend to witness the communist regime’s failed missile launch should surprise no one. An anonymous source told South Korea’s Yonhap State News agency that a dozen Iranians were there to “observe the missile launch and receive test data from North Korea.”
Cooperation between the two rogue states is not exactly a secret. Still, it was interesting that the Iranians would send a delegation of scientists to the event. Though the North Korean’s missile flop, which was an entirely appropriate way to commemorate the 100th birthday of Kim Il-sung (the founder of the North Korean regime and the grandfather of its current leader), may not have yielded much in the way of useful data, Pyongyang’s successful defiance of the West provides the model for what the Iranians hope will be the outcome of their own diplomatic nuclear tangle.
For all of the optimism emanating from Washington about America’s ability to use sanctions to pressure Iran to accept a diplomatic solution to the standoff over the nuclear program, far too little attention is being paid to the fact that there is already a template for the ayatollahs to succeed in realizing their ambitions. The North Koreans successfully flouted a series of agreements signed with the West to prevent them from joining the nuclear club. Both the Clinton and the Bush administrations were suckered into talks that merely dragged out the process until the clock ran out and the isolated North Korean regime was able to successfully test a nuclear device.
It is true that Iran is far bigger and more integrated into the global economy. But like the North Korean dictatorship, the Islamist leaders in Tehran believe they can suppress any dissent that might be stirred up by a successful program of sanctions. The point here isn’t that the two remaining members of George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” are conspiring but that one has already shown the other how to win.
The problem isn’t that the North Koreans will teach the Iranians how to build a bomb. They already know what to do and are going about the enrichment of uranium. Far more important is the lesson the North Koreans can show them about how to swindle the West. So long as President Obama is more focused on ensuring that Israel doesn’t pre-empt Iran’s nukes and seeking peace and quiet until he is safely re-elected, the ayatollahs understand the advantage is theirs. Though the president insists he won’t be played by Iran, the North Korean connection illustrates how easily it can be done.