US-N. Korea thaw not reminiscent of Iran-West rapprochement

Financial Tribune- A former diplomat has cautioned against drawing too close a parallel between the North Korean and Iranian nuclear issues, saying that the recent thaw in Washington-Pyongyang ties should be interpreted in light of the “fundamentally different” status of the two sanctioned countries.

“North Korea’s situation is not comparable to Iran’s at all. There are fundamental differences between the two countries’ situation. North Korea has nothing to lose, but Iran does,” Ali Khorram told the Fararu news website in remarks published on Saturday.

He made the comments in reference to the fact that US President Donald Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, a move that abruptly reversed decades of US policy of non-engagement, threats and sanctions toward the isolated country, aimed at preventing it from developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Trump’s shocking decision on Thursday prompted Iranian analysts to weigh in on different aspects of the new developments, perplexing those who had criticized President Hassan Rouhani’s rapprochement with the West over Tehran’s nuclear activities.

***International Status

Khorram, an international affairs analyst, questioned the accuracy of any comparison between the two countries, saying that unlike Iran, North Korea does not play a significant role in the international arena.

Compared to Iran, it does not have a large population, is located in a less strategically important area, does not have very advanced technologies and its economy is less susceptible to sanctions given its limited international ties, he said.

“The sanctions have the least impact on the country because, contrary to Iran, it does not have any [considerable] trade, economic or cultural interaction with the world. North Korea only has coal which itself mainly consumes. On the other hand, it is a country whose people consume what they plant and therefore is not after importing luxury products or any special progress.”

US Approach

Khorram also argued that the United States’ approach toward Pyongyang is not the same as its Iran policy.

The US deals with North Korea mindful of its relationship with two major powers, namely Russia and China, while Iran is considered an independent state, the analyst said, adding, “North Korea has withdrawn from the NPT [nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty], but we are a signatory to the NPT. North Korea has tested nuclear weapons, while we have declared that any use of such weapons is prohibited.”

Asked about the implications of the possible meeting between US and North Korean leaders for the parties to the Iran nuclear deal, the ex-diplomat said, “The talks would have this message for Trump that we can resolve the crises through negotiation and there is no need for missile and world wars. He can also reach an agreement with Iran through talks, not bullying.”

In addition, Khorram predicted that North Korea would not be committed to denuclearization and would only come to the negotiating table to win a number of concessions.