6 April , 2015
NK Harder Nut To Crack Than Iran, Say Experts
The AsiaN Editor
North Korea will prove to be a harder nut to crack than Iran, according to political analysts. This view follows a deal reached between Tehran and a group of world powers led by the United States on the Middle eastern nation’s nuclear program.
The U.S. has already hinted at adopting a different approach toward Pyongyang, when the State Department said on April 3, “What Iran chooses to do or not do doesn’t have a lot of bearing on whether North Korea lives up to its international obligations.”
The analysts say that the repressive state is less important to the U.S. geopolitically and that Pyongyang is also more desperate than Tehran in bolstering its military and ideological struggle against Seoul and Washington with the threat of nuclear weapons.
“From the U.S. point of view, North Korea lacks geopolitical importance compared to Iran,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies.
“Iran is an oil-producer and a regional power in the Middle East.
“On the other hand, North Korea is impoverished. Moreover, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula requires discussions among members of the six-party talks, which have been dormant for years.”
The U.S. is a member of the talks that aim to end Pyongyang’s nuclear program peacefully. The other members are the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia.
The U.S. was also a member of the group collectively known as the P5+1 — the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany — that persuaded Iran not to develop nuclear weapons.
Cheong Seong-chang, a senior researcher at the Sejong Institute, said the military regime in Pyongyang needs to maintain its nuclear program as a “means of survival.”
“The situation would be more threatening for Pyongyang compared to Tehran because North Korea confronts the military from the world’s most powerful country every day,” he said, citing American troops that have been stationed in South Korea since the Korean War (1950-53).
“Moreover, the reclusive regime has been in an ideological competition against South Korea for decades,” he said.
“Pyongyang has been losing the race and it seeks a game changer, such as a nuclear threat.”
Cheong also speculated that it would be difficult to resume the six-party talks, considering that North Korea has refused to stop nuclear tests. Concerns are growing that Pyongyang may carry out a fourth nuclear test in October.
Cheong cited that the U.S. and other members of the P5+1 were engaged in dialogue with Iran for years in order to limit Tehran’s nuclear program for enriching uranium and reach agreement to prevent it from producing weapons-grade plutonium.
“The dialogue between Pyongyang and the U.S. as well as Seoul has been faltering. There need to be some fresh initiatives to restart dialogue on the North’s nuclear program, but I don’t see any such efforts.”
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