Could Nuke Deal With Tehran Open Door To North Korean Agreement?

Today, Sydney Seiler, the U.S. special envoy to the multilateral talks on North Korea’s denuclearization, began discussions with officials in South Korea over how to prevent the further progress of Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

Seiler said the recent Iran deal represents U.S. openness to pursuing a “different path” in negotiations.

“Iran’s deal demonstrates the value and possibilities the negotiations bring. It demonstrates again our willingness when we have a willing counterpart, and it demonstrates our flexibility when the DPRK (North Korea) makes a decision and it wants to choose a different path,” he said, according to The Korea Herald.

Comparisons between Iran and North Korea have been abundant. Opponents of the Iran agreement point to Pyongyang’s violation of the 1994 Agreed Framework, in which the rogue nation pledged to freeze its own program.

Max Boot noted North Korea’s violations in a recent Los Angeles Times op-ed.

“Before and after signing the Agreed Framework, Pyongyang was secretly enriching uranium. In 2002, North Korean officials brazenly admitted as much to a visiting American delegation.

“The admission sparked a crisis. The U.S. suspended oil shipments and ended its construction work on the light-water reactor. North Korea left the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty,” Boot wrote.

Secretary of State John Kerry argued last week before Congress that there were differences between the Iran and North Korea deal and that Iran would not follow Pyongyang’s path.

“Iran has also agreed to accept the additional protocol, and the additional protocol is an outgrowth of the failure of the North Korea experience, which put in additional access requirements precisely so that we do know what Iran is doing,” Kerry said during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

Since the Iran deal was announced, some analysts and foreign policy experts have said it opens the door to renewed talks with North Korea.

Pyongyang, however, is not so open and the government has already poured water on the possibility of a Iran-style deal, saying their situation is quite different from Iran and that they are “not interested at all in the dialogue to discuss the issue of making it freeze or dismantle its nukes unilaterally first.”

A government spokesman added that it would be “illogical” to draw comparisons because only North Korea was under constant U.S. military threat.

Christopher Lee of the blog, War on the Rocks, dismisses any notion that negotiations with Pyongyang are possible or that a deal similar to the one hammered out with Iran is possible.

“North Korea will likely never agree to a denuclearization deal because Pyongyang sees little or no incentive for engaging Washington at any point. North Korea will remain unaffected in its pursuit of nuclear weapons as long as the United States continues to pursue what it sees as a threatening policy towards them,” writes Lee.

He believes that mandates similar to the Iran deal “will not work because Pyongyang will not even discuss the possibility of freezing or dismantling its nuclear capability without removing the extended nuclear deterrence by the United States. Consequently, to date, as Kim continues to defy international pressure to suspend his weapons programs, Washington continues to strengthen its bonds with Seoul.”


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