January 8, 2016 No.

Editorial In Saudi Daily: The West Made Mistakes With North Korea; It Is Now Repeating Them With Iran

Against the backdrop of reports that North Korea has tested a hydrogen bomb, the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh published an editorial titled "Iran Following in the Footsteps of North Korea," which harshly criticized the superpowers' inadequate response to North Korea's nuclear policy, and discussed the implications of this for the Iranian nuclear dossier.  The daily expressed fear that the failed policy vis-├á-vis North Korea would be repeated in the case of Iran, placing the Gulf states in a situation similar to that of South Korea.

The following are translated excerpts from the editorial:[1] 


"In mid-June of last year, a month before [the announcement of] the nuclear agreement between Iran and the superpowers [the JCPOA], Iranian President Hassan Rohani met with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong. The two agreed to continue their cooperation. As regimes that are similar to each other, Tehran and Pyongyang have found many points in common: Both are hostile to the West, both are highly controversial in their [respective geographic] regions, and both repeatedly do damage to their neighbors.

"Both countries have a long history of cooperation that arouses concern, in nuclear and missile [technology]. According to reports, North Korean nuclear technicians have regularly visited [Iran] in order to provide their Iranian counterparts with the necessary guidance and technical supplies. It should be mentioned that Iran has already confirmed that it has produced a gram and a microgram [sic] of plutonium, which is used to make a nuclear bomb, at its Arak heavy water reactors. [Furthermore,] it is known that North Korea possesses advanced technology for arming warheads with [only] small amounts, up to five kilograms, of plutonium; this material is highly compatible with use in missiles.

"This background is essential in order to understand the idea I wish to clarify in this article. Two days ago, North Korea conducted its first hydrogen bomb test. This is a grave development in terms of international and regional security. Indeed, the superpowers did not hide their displeasure at this test - [a test] that constitutes a clear example of what can happen [when the superpowers] rely on promises made by regimes that show hostility and endanger regional and world security. One outcome of this is that a regime of this sort [manages to] violate the global order and upset the regional balance of power. The implications of this are magnified when the regime in question is failed and tyrannical to the point of insanity.

"[The likelihood] that this model will recur in our Middle Eastern region is great, because Iran is not all that different from North Korea, and because the superpowers are repeating the same mistake and following the same methods to [attempt to] resolve the [Iranian] nuclear dossier. In 1994, the U.S. signed a framework agreement with Pyongyang, which violated it several years later, continuing its [nuclear] program until it could detonate its nuclear bomb. Today, the superpowers, led by the U.S., can do nothing in the face of a nuclear nation. Moreover, paradoxically, they are very interested in indirectly protecting Kim Jong-un's tyrannical regime, because anarchy or upheaval in that nuclear nation could cause real damage to international security. This scenario could recur in the case of Tehran, which is three months away from completing the stage of becoming a so-called 'threshold nuclear state.' This means that it requires [three months] to produce the uranium needed to build a single nuclear [bomb].

"North Korea lied when it signed the framework agreement with the U.S., since it was [at the same time] secretly enriching uranium. After this was exposed, it expelled the [UN] inspectors and detonated its nuclear bomb. This scenario can recur with the regime in Tehran, which can neither be trusted nor relied upon, especially because it continues to act aggressively against its neighbors. The Western countries, led by the U.S., will find themselves condemning a theocratic regime that calls for their downfall and yearns for their death, while the Gulf states will face a fate similar to that of South Korea, becoming hostages of American protection. Will anyone learn this lesson?"




[1] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), January 7, 2016.