Iran keeps close eye on upcoming US-North Korea talks

Al-Monitor | : On March 8, the White House announced that US President Donald Trump had accepted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s invitation to hold talks, sparking various international reactions. Many have welcomed it as a first step toward preventing a potential nuclear war between Washington and Pyongyang. Some, however, have been more skeptical and are asking what will happen if such a meeting ends without concrete results. Iran is likely among the countries that are not too happy with the news, since a potential deal between Trump and Kim could have negative consequences for Tehran.

Iran is first and foremost concerned about the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Even if the nuclear deal survives the upcoming May 12 deadline for Trump to sign sanctions waivers, successful talks between the United States and North Korea could further threaten the JCPOA. The assumption here is that in the event of successful talks, Trump will likely boast that he is a better negotiator than his predecessor Barack Obama, thus moving to tear up the nuclear deal and instead defend his own potential agreement with North Korea.

But this is not Tehran’s only source of concern. In an infamous State of the Union address on Jan. 29, 2002, US President George W. Bush described Iran, North Korea and Iraq as an “axis of evil.” Similarly, while the international community may see North Korea as the biggest global threat given its possession of nuclear weapons, Trump is seeking to characterize Iran as an equally worrisome threat to international peace by pursuing the same doctrine and strategy as the Bush administration. Therefore, Tehran is worried that a potential American breakthrough with North Korea will, more than ever, shift US focus onto Iran.

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