Commentary Magazine


Will North Korea Influence Iran –Or Is It the Other Way Around?

Henry Kissinger writes:

Acquiescence in the North Korean nuclear program would fly in the face of American foreign policy since we shepherded the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty through the international community in 1967, as well as of the policy President Obama put forward only two months ago in Prague. It would undermine the prospects of the proposed negotiations with Iran.

What if we just give up and let North Korea have its nuclear weapons? Not a good idea, he cautions:

De facto acquiescence in a North Korean nuclear program would require a reconsideration of U.S. strategic planning. More emphasis would need to be given to missile defense. It would be essential to redesign the American deterrent strategy in a world of multiple nuclear powers — a challenge unprecedented in our experience. The enhanced role of non-state actors with respect to terrorism would have to be addressed. The concepts of deterrence against state actors are familiar, though not in a world of multiple nuclear powers. They have little or no relevance to non-state actors operating by stealth.

Well, one can appreciate the concern for how capitulating to North Korea might impact Iran. But didn’t the president essentially throw in the towel already on Iran with his mumbo-jumbo about “No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons” and his wish-upon-a-star desire that Iran share our non-proliferation goals? So perhaps the dangerous acquiescence has already taken place — and North Korea is taking its cues accordingly.

But Kissinger’s words of warning about the dangers of letting rouge states have their nukes is, of course, as applicable to Iran as it is to North Korea. Nevertheless, Obama seems content to let the Iranians move ahead with their nuclear program — no viable game plan to stop them, no concern for the international agreements Iran has and continues to violate, and no game plan for “containing” Iran, should it acquire such weapons.

We are finding out what happens when our foes suspect the American president is all talk: they ignore him and go merrily along their way.

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