Posted tagged ‘South Korea’

‘Strategic Patience’ Is Over: Tillerson Floats Military Action in North Korea

March 17, 2017

‘Strategic Patience’ Is Over: Tillerson Floats Military Action in North Korea, Breitbart, Frances Martel, March 17, 2017

(Might Secretary Tillerson also have intended to give a “hint” to The Islamic Republic of Iran? — DM)

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – MARCH 17: (L to R) U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se during a press conference on March 17, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Song Kyung-Seok-Pool/Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in Seoul on Friday that the Trump administration is open to military action against North Korea as a last resort, and that the Obama-era policy of “strategic patience has ended.”

“The policy of strategic patience has ended. We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures. All options are on the table,” Tillerson told reporters at a press conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se. “If North Korea takes actions that threaten South Korean forces or our own forces, that will be met with an appropriate response.”

“If they elevate the threats of their weapons program to the level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table,” Tillerson added. He emphasized that the United States would attempt to avoid to the extent possible any military actions against North Korea, particularly those that may put North Korean civilian lives in danger. “We hope that that will persuade North Korea to take a different course of action. That’s our desire,” Tillerson concluded.

Tillerson also took the opportunity to once again call for China to take on a larger role in containing North Korea’s escalating belligerence and objected to China cutting economic ties with South Korea over the deployment of the America Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system. “While we acknowledge Chinese opposition, its economic retaliation against South Korea is inappropriate and troubling. We ask China to refrain from such actions. Instead, we urge China to address the threat that makes that necessary,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson is currently in the middle of a three-nation trip to Asia, having left Japan on Thursday and scheduled to meet with leaders in China on Saturday.

The Secretary of State’s remarks regarding potential military action against North Korea follow remarks in Japan that emphasized a “different approach” to the rogue government in Pyongyang. “Part of the purpose of my visit to the region is to exchange views on a new approach,” Tillerson noted on Friday in a press conference with his Japanese counterpart, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.

The Trump administration has hinted at a change in America’s approach towards Pyongyang in other venues, as well. Earlier this month, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters in New York that the White House is “not ruling anything out” to keep North Korea from developing and using nuclear weapons. Haley described the THAAD system as a necessary response to Pyongyang’s insistence on violating UN sanctions with missile launches that could threaten Japan and South Korea. “We are not going to leave South Korea standing there with the threat of North Korea facing them and not help. The reason for THAAD is because of the actions of North Korea,” she said in response to Chinese and Russian opposition.

Following Tillerson’s remarks Friday, President Trump himself issued a warning to North Korea on Twitter:

Tillerson’s message towards China was also similar in Japan: as its largest trading partner, take a more prominent role in containing North Korea. “We look to China to fulfill its obligations and fully implement the sanctions called for,” he said. Anticipating Tillerson’s visit, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told reporters Wednesday he was “optimistic about the future of China-US relations” and anticipated a positive outcome from Tillerson’s visit. President Donald Trump is reportedly working with Chinese officials to plan a U.S. visit by President Xi Jinping next month.

These statements represent a nearly complete shift away from what former Secretary of State and twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton described as “strategic patience“: a policy of waiting for the North Korean economy to implode and Pyongyang finding itself no longer able to afford to ignore UN sanctions and the rejection of the international community. This policy largely failed because China continued to trade with North Korea, providing the fellow communist regime a vital lifeline.

The response in Seoul to the new, robust U.S. policy is largely divided along partisan lines, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap. Conservative leaders have expressed gratitude for Tillerson’s strong support for their country. “We highly appreciate his comments as he expressed a strong willingness to respond to North Korea’s reckless behavior,” Liberty Korea Party spokesman Rep. Choung Tae-ok told Yonhap.

One left-wing leader, in contrast, told Yonhap: “We are supporting the U.S.’s move to strengthen the effectiveness of sanctions against the North through cooperation with relevant countries, but we cannot help expressing concerns about the U.S. stance that there will be no dialogue until North Korea gives up (nuclear weapons).”

North Korea appears to have responded to Tillerson’s presence in the region with the publication of a “human rights white paper” condemning the United States as a serial violator of human rights, condemning the presidential election itself as a human rights violation against the American people and labeling the nation a “human rights desert.”

Not Satire | Impeached President’s attorney claims protests against her “led by N.Korea”

January 7, 2017

Impeached President’s attorney claims protests against her “led by N.Korea” NK News, JH Ahn, January 6, 2017

(Maybe Park’s claim that Kim Jong-un is responsible for her downfall will work as well as Clinton’s claim that Putin is responsible for hers. — DM)

kimchiun

South Korea’s ongoing Park Geun-hye scandal took another strange turn on Thursday, with a member of the impeached President’s legal representation claiming that followers of Juche ideology were behind the protests against her.

Comparing President Park to Socrates and Jesus, who were, like Park, “falsely driven by the people to execution,” the attorney said that the protests were “not the representation of the South Koreans’ popular will.”

“The candlelight vigils were organized by those who follow Kim Il Sung’s Juche ideology, and was a de facto (the North’s) declaration of war against the Republic of Korea,” Seo Seok-gu, President Park’s attorney said during impeachment hearings at the Constitutional Court.

“North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun has said that South Koreans are raising their torchlight following Kim Jong Un’s order,” Seo said. It’s unclear which article he was referring to, as no such report was found in a search of KCNA Watch.

“South Korean reports (about the protests)… are being highly complimented by the North Korean media…and should not be used as evidence against Park.”

On the following day of impeachment hearings, Seo repeated the claim during an interview with a local radio channel.

“(Haven’t the protesters) marched through the center of the city, walking with the giant sculpture of Lee Seok-ki, who have said to plot the armed protests should the North declare war against us?,” Seo asked the CBS anchor.

Seo’s eccentric arguments continued: he claimed that Pentagon had used its intelligence satellites to count the number of protestors in Seoul.

“On the day of the protest, when so-called ‘one million’ gathered at Gwanghwamun Plaza, Pentagon has used its satellite to take the imagery and announced that it was 113,373,” Seo said.

No article or statement by the Pentagon has mentioned this, while a defense expert said it would be “technically impossible”.

“The U.S. satellites are known to be capable of identifying objects that are only a few centimeters wide,” Kim Min-seok, a senior researcher at the Korea Defense and Security Forum, told NK News.

“But that does not mean that the intelligence satellites can identify people, track their movements and count numbers,” Kim said.

China to Obama: America Forced Norks to get Nukes and Must Negotiate a Deal

September 20, 2016

China to Obama: America Forced Norks to get Nukes and Must Negotiate a Deal, Dan Miller’s Blog, September 20, 2016

(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

In an article titled North Korean Nukes, South Korea, Japan, China and Obama, posted the day after North Korea’s most recent nuke test, September 9th, I contended that China would not honor Obama’s request to make North Korea stop developing and testing nukes. China has remained a faithful ally of North Korea since the end stage of the Korean Conflict and “sees Obama, not as the representative of the world’s greatest power, but as a joke. He has no clout internationally and is a national embarrassment.”  NB: I had hoped to publish this article more than a week ago, but my internet was down or at best intermittent from September 13th until September 19th.)

I was right, but it’s a bit worse than I had thought.

On September 12th, an article was published by Xinhua titled China urges U.S. to take responsibility on Korean Peninsula nuclear issueXinhua is

the official press agency of the People’s Republic of China. Xinhua is the biggest and most influential media organization in China. Xinhua is a ministry-level institution subordinate to the Chinese central government. Its president is a member of theCentral Committee of China’s Communist Party.

According to Xinhua,

U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter reportedly called for further pressure on the DPRK last Friday after the country carried out a new nuclear test and said China bears “responsibility” for tackling the problem. [Emphasis added.]

The essence of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is the conflict between the DPRK and the United States, spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press conference. [Emphasis added.]

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a close neighbor of the DPRK, China has made unremitting efforts to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and safeguard the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, Hua said.

A statement released by the Foreign Ministry of the DPRK Sunday said the United States compelled the DPRK to develop nuclear warheads, and the nuclear threat it has constantly posed to the DPRK for decades is the engine that has pushed the DPRK to this point. [Emphasis added.]

Blindly increasing the pressure and the resulting bounce-back will only make the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula “a firm knot,” Hua said, calling for responsibility from all relevant parties.

Hua reiterated that China will remain committed to resolving issues concerning the Peninsula through dialogue to realize long-term peace and stability.

China strongly urges all parties to speak and act cautiously with the larger picture in mind, avoid provoking each other and make genuine efforts to achieve denuclearization, peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, Hua said.

. . . .

“We have seen the twists and turns in the situation on the Korean Peninsula since the six-party talks have stalled,” Hua said, noting that it proves that simple sanctions cannot solve the issue. [Emphasis added.]

Hua said the security concerns of parties on the Korean Peninsula must and can only be resolved in a way that serves the interests of all parties.

Any unilateral action based on one’s self-interest will lead to a dead end, and it will not help resolve one’s security concerns but will only aggravate the tension, complicate the issue, and make it more difficult to achieve relevant goals, Hua said. [Emphasis added.]

The six-party talks, involving China, the DPRK, the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and Japan, were a multilateral mechanism aimed at solving the Korean Peninusla nuclear issue. The talks began in 2003 and stalled in December 2008. The DPRK quit the talks in April 2009.

“Resuming the six-party talks is difficult, but we cannot give up easily ,” Hua said.

China will continue to keep close communication with relevant parties and call on them to return to the right track of solving issues related to the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and negotiation, the spokesperson said.

China clearly appears to be following the line of Kim Jong-un on why North Korea needs nukes:

The Obama administration cannot engage in successful negotiations with North Korea, for several reasons. They are, in no particular order: Obama will be gone in about four months; Kerry is Obama’s Secretary of State; The Obama-Clinton-Kerry Iran Scam gave the Islamic Republic everything it sought and, at best, left Iran on the highway to nukes. North Korea and Iran are different in at least one major respect: Iran claimed that it did not have nukes and had not tried to develop them; Supreme Leader Khamenei was claimed to have issued a fatwa against the acquisition, development and use of nukes — despite propaganda videos showing how Iran will use nukes against the “great and little Satan.” North Korea has and has tested five nukes. Kim brags about them and threatens to use them.

The nuke threat

38 North is a think tank largely devoted to obtaining and publishing reliable information about North Korea’s nuke and missile programs. An article there by , published on September 12th, concludes:

What are the greatest threats from the rapidly expanding North Korean nuclear program? Left unchecked, Pyongyang will likely develop the capability to reach the continental United States with a nuclear tipped missile in a decade or so. Much more troubling for now is that its recent nuclear and missile successes may give Pyongyang a false sense of confidence and dramatically change regional security dynamics. The likely ability of the DPRK to put nuclear weapons on target anywhere in South Korea and Japan and even on some US assets in the Pacific greatly complicates the regional military picture. That situation would be exacerbated if Pyongyang decides to field tactical nuclear weapons as its arsenal expands and its confidence in its nuclear arsenal grows.

More bombs and better bombs also increase the potential of accidents and miscalculations with greater consequences as the number and sophistication of bombs increase. Rendering the nuclear enterprise safe and secure in case of internal turmoil or a chaotic transition in the North becomes more difficult. We also cannot rule out that a financially desperate leadership may risk the sale of fissile materials or other nuclear assets, perhaps to non-state actors. [Emphasis added.]

So, what to do? The latest nuclear test demonstrates conclusively that attempting to sanction the DPRK into submission and waiting for China to exert leverage over Pyongyang’s nuclear program do not work. Increasing sanctions and adding missile defenses in South Korea to that mix will also not suffice and make China even less likely to cooperate. What’s missing is diplomacy as much as Washington may find it repugnant to deal with the Kim regime.

On September 20th, North Korea announced that it had tested a new long-range rocket engine, suggesting that it “can be used for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which is capable, in theory, of hitting targets on the U.S. mainland.” The September 9th nuke test is claimed to have involved “a miniaturized nuclear warhead that could be mounted on a ballistic missile.” How close in North Korea to being able to nuke the U.S. mainland? I don’t know and don’t want to find out by having it happen.

Can diplomacy, even if undertaken by a new administration after Obama leaves office, be successful? Continued sanctions got Iran to engage in negotiations; both Iran and Obama’s America very much wanted the sanctions lifted so that Iran would become an honorable member of the community of nations. There are few if any significant sanctions to lift on North Korea and China will not impose or enforce any; China’s role has been to help North Korea evade sanctions.

In China Won’t Stop Kim Jong-un. The U.S. Must Stand Up to Both of Them, published by Slate Magazine on September 13,  had some perhaps useful suggestions:

[T]he United States should rally the same sort of campaign that revved up the pressure against Iran before those nuclear talks got underway. In other words, the international community should apply sanctions not only against North Korea but also against all institutions that do business with North Korea—an action that would affect some major Chinese banks, which provide it with energy supplies, other goods, and hard currency. [Emphasis added.]

Yes, this would stir tensions in U.S.-China relations; but so do a lot of other actions, many of them instigated by China (for instance, the dodgy territorial claims in the South China Sea), and in this case, any perceptions of American aggression would be offset, to some degree, by a realization—at least by some Chinese officials—that it’s time for Beijing to face up to its problem and reassess its strategic priorities accordingly. (Longtime China-watchers say that some of Xi’s senior comrades have been advocating tougher action against Kim.)

He also suggests that if an end is put to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and work, America should agree to terminate its no longer necessary THAAD deployments in South Korea and Japan. Further, the next president

should take steps, especially with China, to prevent Pyongyang from deploying a nuclear missile; but if that proves fruitless, he or she should make very clear that North Korea’s use of nuclear weapons—or even a conventional invasion of South Korea (which might be accompanied by a brandishing of nukes to deter anyone from coming to Seoul’s aid)—will be regarded as an attack on the United States and will be dealt with accordingly. There should be no ambiguity about this. Kim Jong-un may be crazy, but his eccentricities have always been in the service of his survival—and he should understand that he’s putting his survival on the line. Daniel Sneider, associate director of Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, thinks we should deploy more nuclear-capable aircraft on U.S. bases in Asia to drive this point home fiercely.

It seems worth noting that among the reasons to expect that a Russian-assisted attack on South Korea would be successful, which Kim Il-sung suggested to Stalin in 1950, was that Secretary of State Dean Atcheson had delivered an important address in which he listed the nations to the defense of which America would come if attacked. South Korea was not on the list. As I observed here in November of 2010,

When Kim il-Sung secretly visited Moscow between March 30 and April 25, he assured Stalin that his attack would succeed in three days: there would be an uprising by some two hundred thousand party members and he was convinced that the United States would not intervene. Secretary of State Dean Acheson’s January 12, 1950 speech was persuasive evidence. There, Secretary Acheson had omitted South Korea from a list of nations which the United States would defend if attacked. Stalin gave the go-ahead.

Conclusions

China has encouraged North Korean nuclearization and wants America and her allies, principally South Korea, to cease their “provocations” against the Kim regime. Yet Kim thrives on, and encourages his supporters by, engaging in provocations far more serious and dramatic than anything thus far done by America and South Korea. It seems likely that the North Korean nuke – missile problem will continue until Kim is (a) taken out and (b) replaced with someone less narcissistic and more interested in feeding his people than his ego. Whether such a replacement will emerge is unknown. However, if a Kim clone emerges instead, he seems likely to be more concerned than Kim about his prospects for a long and happy life, even with protection from China.

North Korean Nukes, South Korea, Japan, China and Obama

September 10, 2016

North Korean Nukes, South Korea, Japan, China and Obama, Dan Miller’s Blog, September 10, 2016

(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

On September 9th, North Korea conducted its fifth nuke test, of its most powerful nuke thus far. Can Obama get China to help make North Korea stop developing and testing nukes? Nope. China sees Obama, not as the representative of the world’s greatest power, but as a joke. He has no clout internationally and is a national embarrassment.

China and North Korea – a very short history

Here’s a link to an article I posted on June 25, 2013 about the Korean conflict. To summarize, China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) have a long history of acting together. China views the Republic of Korea (South Korea), which borders North Korea to the south and is an American ally, as a threat. She does not want reunification of the Korean peninsula under a government favorable to America.

When, on June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea with Russian aircraft, weaponry, training and other substantial support, China did not assist North Korea. North Korean forces pushed the South Korean government, as well as the few American military advisers (then under the command of the Department of State), south to the Pusan perimeter. Following General MacArthur’s unexpected and successful Inchon invasion which began on September 15th, American and other United Nations forces pushed the North Korean forces back north: MacArthur sent his by then greatly augmented forces east to Wonson and eventually managed to push North Korean forces to the northern side of the Yalu River. However, Chinese forces struck back en masse and MacArthur’s forces were driven back to Seoul.

Ever since bringing to an end MacArthur’s successes in the Korean Conflict, China has supported North Korea. She has opposed, and has then declined to enforce, significant sanctions responsive to North Korean nuclear and missile development and testing. While China may acquiesce in weak UN resolutions condemning North Korean provocations, she rarely goes beyond that.

China, Japan and the two Koreas

China has a long memory and still resents, bitterly, the lengthy period prior to and during World War II when Japan occupied significant parts of China. Ditto South Korea, all of which was under Japanese occupation for a lengthy period prior to and during World War II. Although China has substantial trade with both South Korea and Japan, she is more hostile to Japan than is South Korea; the latter two have substantial mutual interests transcending trade.

Perhaps the most important current dispute between China on the one hand, and Japan-South Korea-America on the other, involves the plans of Japan and South Korea to defend against North Korean missiles by the installation of THAAD anti-missile weapons provided by America. China’s stated reason for opposition to the THAAD system is that it could be used against Chinese, as well as North Korean, missiles. Why does China assert this objection unless she hopes to fire missiles at one or both of them? If China fires missiles at Japan and/or South Korea, they have every right to destroy her missiles and to respond in kind with U.S. assistance if requested.

President Obama

condemned Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test today in the “strongest possible terms as a grave threat to regional security and to international peace and stability” as outraged lawmakers from both parties called for tougher action to stop North Korea’s nuclear program. [Emphasis added.]

That may well be all that Obama does — despite the warnings of Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, that

we have to make it absolutely clear that if they engage in any military activity, they will be destroyed. We have to have a credible deterrent. That seems to be the only thing that will stop North Korea from engaging in military action… We have sanctioned them, and we should keep sanctioning them, but it’s not going to stop them from developing the nuclear weapons.” [Emphasis added.]

Obama won’t do that:

In a statement Friday, President Obama vowed to “take additional significant steps, including new sanctions, to demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to its unlawful and dangerous actions.”

Obama did not suggest what He might have in mind, beyond historically ineffective sanctions and condemnations “in the strongest possible terms,” to let North Korea know that there will be “consequences.”

A September 9th article at the New York Times provides an unpleasant analysis of the options Obama now has, and which His successor will have, in dealing with North Korea.

A hard embargo, in which Washington and its allies block all shipping into and out of North Korea and seek to paralyze its finances, risks confrontations that allies in Asia fear could quickly escalate into war. But restarting talks on the North’s terms would reward the defiance of its young leader, Kim Jong-un, with no guarantee that he will dismantle the nuclear program irrevocably.

For more than seven years, President Obama has sought to find a middle ground, adopting a policy of gradually escalating sanctions that the White House once called “strategic patience.” But the test on Friday — the North’s fifth and most powerful blast yet, perhaps with nearly twice the strength of its last one — eliminates any doubt that that approach has failed and that the North has mastered the basics of detonating a nuclear weapon.

Despite sanctions and technological backwardness, North Korea appears to have enjoyed a burst of progress in its missile program over the last decade, with experts warning that it is speeding toward a day when it will be able to threaten the West Coast of the United States and perhaps the entire country. [Emphasis added.]

. . . .

Mr. Obama has refused to negotiate with the North unless it agrees first that the ultimate objective of any talks would be a Korean Peninsula without nuclear arms. But Mr. Kim has demonstrated, at least for now, that time is on his side. And as he gets closer to an ability to threaten the United States with a nuclear attack, and stakes the credibility of his government on it, it may be even more difficult to persuade him to give up the program.

 In a statement Friday, Mr. Obama condemned the North’s test and said it “follows an unprecedented campaign of ballistic missile launches, which North Korea claims are intended to serve as delivery vehicles intended to target the United States and our allies.”

“To be clear, the United States does not, and never will, accept North Korea as a nuclear state,” he said.

Many experts who have dealt with North Korea say the United States may have no choice but to do so. [Emphasis added.]

“It’s too late on the nuclear weapons program — that is not going to be reversed,” William Perry, the defense secretary under President Bill Clinton during the 1994 nuclear crisis with North Korea, said in August at a presentation in Kent, Conn. The only choice now, he argued, is to focus on limiting the missile program. [Emphasis added.]

Obama has taken no significant steps to limit Iran’s continuing missile development and testing program. How can He limit that of North Korea without Chinese cooperation?

Yet the latest effort to do that, an agreement between the United States and South Korea to deploy an advanced missile defense system in the South, has inflamed China, which argues the system is also aimed at its weapons. While American officials deny that, the issue has divided Washington and Beijing so sharply that it will be even more difficult now for them to come up with a joint strategy for dealing with the North. [Emphasis added.]

China has been so vocal with its displeasure over the deployment of the American system that Mr. Kim may have concluded he could afford to upset Beijing by conducting Friday’s test. [Emphasis added.]

Fueling that perception were reports that a North Korean envoy visited Beijing earlier this week.

North Korea almost certainly sees this as an opportunity to take steps to enhance its nuclear and missile capabilities with little risk that China will do anything in response,” Evans J.R. Revere, a former State Department official and North Korea specialist, said in a speech in Seoul on Friday. [Emphasis added.]

The breach between China and the United States was evident during Mr. Obama’s meeting with President Xi Jinping last week. “I indicated to him that if the Thaad bothered him, particularly since it has no purpose other than defensive and does not change the strategic balance between the United States and China, that they need to work with us more effectively to change Pyongyang’s behavior,” Mr. Obama said, referring to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, as the advanced missile defense project is known. [Emphasis added.]

North Korea and Iran

Iran and North Korea have a long history of cooperation in developing nukes and missiles with which to deliver them. In the past, Iranian scientists have been present at North Korean nuke tests, and vice versa. They have also assisted each other in the development of nukes and missiles.

Iran and North Korea have substantial reasons to cooperate: by virtue of the Iran scam, Iran now has lots of money but is at least minimally restricted in its nuke development. North Korea has little usable currency, needs whatever it can get, and no attempts to halt or even to limit its nuke development have worked.

A missile fired recently by North Korea bore a striking resemblance to an Iranian missile.

Photos released by North Korea of its launch of long-range ballistic missiles are the latest proof of the close military cooperation between Pyongyang and Tehran, an Israeli expert in the field told the news site IsraelDefense on Tuesday.

According to Tal Inbar — head of Space and UAV Research Centre at the Fisher Institute for Air & Space Strategic Studies — what was new in the photos was the shape of the warheads attached to the Nodong missiles, known in Iran as the Shahab-3.

Until now, such warheads — first detected by Inbar in Iran in 2010 — have not been seen in North Korea. At the time, Inbar dubbed them NRVs (or, “new entry vehicles”), which became their nickname among missile experts around the world. [Emphasis added.]

Inbar told IsraelDefense: “The configuration that we saw [on Tuesday] is identical to what we saw in Iran six years ago. In principle, its penetrating body (warhead) is identical to that of Scud missiles, but is mounted on the Shahab-3, and creates a more stable entity than other Shahab/Nodong warheads.”

Inbar said this was the third time that something of this nature had appeared in Iran before it did in North Korea. “But we must remember that the two countries engage in close cooperation where military and space-directed missiles are concerned,” he said. “It is thus possible that both plans and technology are being transferred regularly from one to the other.” [Emphasis added.]

Are North Korea and Iran rational? According to this New York Times analysis, North Korea is.

North Korea’s actions abroad and at home, while abhorrent, appear well within its rational self-interest, according to a 2003 study by David C. Kang, a political scientist now at the University of Southern California. At home and abroad, he found, North Korean leaders shrewdly determined their interests and acted on them. (In an email, he said his conclusions still applied.) [Emphasis added.]

“All the evidence points to their ability to make sophisticated decisions and to manage palace, domestic and international politics with extreme precision,” Mr. Kang wrote. “It is not possible to argue these were irrational leaders, unable to make means-ends calculations.” [Emphasis added.]

Victor Cha, a Georgetown University professor who served as the Asian affairs director on George W. Bush’s National Security Council, has repeatedly argued that North Korea’s leadership is rational.

I submit that the same analysis, applied to Iran, produces the same result. Iran’s leaders know what they want, and are sufficiently rational to achieve it; they did. Obama, not the leader of a dictatorial theocracy, is sufficiently irrational to believe that what he wants for the Islamic Republic of Iran is what America needs it to have. It is not.

Obama and Iran

Obama’s Iran scam would be farcical were it not potentially deadly. He did not do what would have been best for America and the free world in general — increase sanctions until Iran complied fully with UN resolutions on missile testing, ceased Uranium enrichment and disposed of the means to do it, ceased all nuke research as well as all nuke cooperation with North Korea and ceased supporting all terrorist groups, including Hezbollah and Hamas. Instead, perhaps considering Himself above such trivia, Obama sought little more than what He considered His greatest achievement — His legacy:

iranian-navy-copy-1

Conclusions

If Obama were viewed internationally as the powerful leader of the world’s most powerful nation, He might be able to get China to clamp down, severely and successfully, on North Korea’s nuke and missile development. Were China to reject His overtures, He could arrange for it to wish that it had acceded. That’s not who Obama is, as demonstrated by, among His other actions, entering into the Iran Scam deal with Iran.

Perhaps Kim Jong-un needs to dress like an Iranian mullah to convince Obama to give him a “deal” similar to the one He gave to Iran. He had better hurry: that won’t work with President Trump.

A Big Blast in North Korea, and Big Questions on U.S. Policy

September 9, 2016

A Big Blast in North Korea, and Big Questions on U.S. Policy, New York Times

GENEVA — North Korea’s latest test of an atomic weapon leaves the United States with an uncomfortable choice: stick with a policy of incremental sanctions that has clearly failed to stop the country’s nuclear advances, or pick among alternatives that range from the highly risky to the repugnant.

A hard embargo, in which Washington and its allies block all shipping into and out of North Korea and seek to paralyze its finances, risks confrontations that allies in Asia fear could quickly escalate into war. But restarting talks on the North’s terms would reward the defiance of its young leader, Kim Jong-un, with no guarantee that he will dismantle the nuclear program irrevocably.

For more than seven years, President Obama has sought to find a middle ground, adopting a policy of gradually escalating sanctions that the White House once called “strategic patience.” But the test on Friday — the North’s fifth and most powerful blast yet, perhaps with nearly twice the strength of its last one — eliminates any doubt that that approach has failed and that the North has mastered the basics of detonating a nuclear weapon.

Despite sanctions and technological backwardness, North Korea appears to have enjoyed a burst of progress in its missile program over the last decade, with experts warning that it is speeding toward a day when it will be able to threaten the West Coast of the United States and perhaps the entire country.

“This is not a cry for negotiations,” said Victor Cha, who served in the administration of President George W. Bush and now is a North Korea expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “This is very clearly a serious effort at amassing real nuclear capabilities that they can use to deter the U.S. and others.”

Mr. Cha said the usual response from Washington, Seoul and Tokyo — for another round of sanctions — was not likely to be any more successful at changing the North’s behavior than previous rounds. That means Mr. Obama’s successor will confront a nuclear and missile program far more advanced than the one Mr. Obama began grappling with in 2009.

Mr. Obama has refused to negotiate with the North unless it agrees first that the ultimate objective of any talks would be a Korean Peninsula without nuclear arms. But Mr. Kim has demonstrated, at least for now, that time is on his side. And as he gets closer to an ability to threaten the United States with a nuclear attack, and stakes the credibility of his government on it, it may be even more difficult to persuade him to give up the program.

 In a statement Friday, Mr. Obama condemned the North’s test and said it “follows an unprecedented campaign of ballistic missile launches, which North Korea claims are intended to serve as delivery vehicles intended to target the United States and our allies.”

“To be clear, the United States does not, and never will, accept North Korea as a nuclear state,” he said.

Many experts who have dealt with North Korea say the United States may have no choice but to do so.

“It’s too late on the nuclear weapons program — that is not going to be reversed,” William Perry, the defense secretary under President Bill Clinton during the 1994 nuclear crisis with North Korea, said in August at a presentation in Kent, Conn. The only choice now, he argued, is to focus on limiting the missile program.

Yet the latest effort to do that, an agreement between the United States and South Korea to deploy an advanced missile defense system in the South, has inflamed China, which argues the system is also aimed at its weapons. While American officials deny that, the issue has divided Washington and Beijing so sharply that it will be even more difficult now for them to come up with a joint strategy for dealing with the North.

China has been so vocal with its displeasure over the deployment of the American system that Mr. Kim may have concluded he could afford to upset Beijing by conducting Friday’s test.

Fueling that perception were reports that a North Korean envoy visited Beijing earlier this week.

“North Korea almost certainly sees this as an opportunity to take steps to enhance its nuclear and missile capabilities with little risk that China will do anything in response,” Evans J.R. Revere, a former State Department official and North Korea specialist, said in a speech in Seoul on Friday.

The breach between China and the United States was evident during Mr. Obama’s meeting with President Xi Jinping last week. “I indicated to him that if the Thaad bothered him, particularly since it has no purpose other than defensive and does not change the strategic balance between the United States and China, that they need to work with us more effectively to change Pyongyang’s behavior,” Mr. Obama said, referring to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, as the advanced missile defense project is known.

But Mr. Obama noted that sanctions had failed at having much effect. That is largely because the Chinese have left open large loopholes that have kept the North Korean economy alive and, by some measures, enjoying more trade than anytime in years.

In a recent paper, two researchers concluded that sanctions so far “have had the net effect of actually improving” North Korea’s procurement capabilities for its weapons program. To evade sanctions, the North’s state-run trading companies opened offices in China, hired more capable Chinese middlemen and paid higher fees to employ more sophisticated brokers, according to Jim Walsh and John Park, scholars at M.I.T. and Harvard respectively.

The sanctions, Mr. Cha noted, “are supposed to inflict enough pain so the regime comes back to the negotiation table, and that’s clearly not working; or it’s supposed to collapse the regime until it starves, and that’s not working either.”

“Unless China is willing to cut off everything, which they don’t appear willing to do, the sanctions may be politically the right thing to do and a requisite response, but they are not the answer to the problem,” he said.

That means the choices facing Mr. Obama’s successor will be stark. One option is to choke off all trade, in part by telling banks that conduct transactions with North Korea that they will be shut out of dealing in dollars around the world — an effective tactic against Iran before last year’s nuclear deal. But that would enrage the Chinese, and probably cut into cooperation on other issues.

At the same time, an attempt to intercept all shipping could quickly escalate into a full-blown conflict, something neither Mr. Obama nor the South Koreans and Japanese have been willing to risk.

On the other hand, reopening negotiations, which Donald J. Trump has indicated he is willing to consider, could mean paying North Korea again to freeze nuclear activities that the Bush administration and the Clinton administration had already rewarded them for stopping years ago.

The nuclear program dates back to Mr. Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the country’s founder, who emerged from the Korean War more than 60 years ago mindful that the United States had considered using nuclear weapons in that conflict and determined to get his own arsenal.

The missile program also has a long history, mostly to deliver conventional arms. But now the two are converging, as the North races to develop a weapon small, light and durable enough to be launched into space and survive re-entry into the atmosphere.

The explosive energy unleashed during the test on Friday, estimated at 10 to 12 kilotons of TNT, was nearly twice that of the North’s last test, conducted in January, said Yoo Yong-gyu, a senior seismologist at South Korea’s National Meteorological Administration.

And the fact that North Korea’s fifth test came only eight months after its fourth is another indication that it is making fast progress toward fitting its ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads, said Choi Kang, a senior analyst at the Asan Institute. The North had waited about three years between each of its previous tests.

North Korea’s advances have unnerved its neighbors in South Korea and Japan, and Mr. Trump’s suggestion that the two nations should pay more for the United States to defend them has not helped.

In both South Korea and Japan, a small but increasingly vocal minority hasbegun to advocate developing nuclear weapons to counter the North instead of relying on the United States.

Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute in Seongnam, south of Seoul, argued that a South Korean nuclear program might distract the North from its efforts to build a long-range missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the mainland United States.

“If South Korea arms itself with nuclear weapons, North Korea will regard the South Korean nuclear weapons, not the distant American nukes, as the most direct threat to its security,” Mr. Cheong said.

South Korean, Japanese Media Responds to Donald Trump’s Nuclear Comments

April 2, 2016

South Korean, Japanese Media Responds to Donald Trump’s Nuclear Comments

by Frances Martel

1 Apr 2016

Source: South Korean, Japanese Media Responds to Donald Trump’s Nuclear Comments – Breitbart

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s remarks suggesting support for the nuclear armament of Japan and South Korea have sparked intense conversation in the media of both nations. Many believe the absence of America in Asia will lead to war, with Japan fearing Chinese aggression, South Korea fearing Japan, and both hoping North Korea’s strength does not match its words.

Trump has made multiple statements throughout the campaign that indicate he is uncomfortable with the decades-long status quo of a robust American military presence in Asia. Most recently, during a town hall discussion on CNN, he argued that America “can’t afford to do it anymore.”

“At some point we have to say, you know what, we’re better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea,” he argued, adding, “I would rather see Japan having some form of defense, and maybe even offense against North Korea, because we’re not pulling the trigger.” He added that South Korea should also begin contributing more to its own defense and brushed off concern about a nuclear-armed South Korea, suggesting that “it’s going to happen, anyway.”

The White House has dismissed Trump’s suggestions of arming both nations with nuclear weapons as “ridiculous.”

In Japan, the nation’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper describes the reaction as “bewilderment and unease.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refused to comment on the remarks, calling any statement he could make “improper.” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida rejected the possibility of Japan acquiring nuclear weapons as “impossible.”

Asahi quotes a Foreign Ministry official on background as stating, however, that he does not trust Trump has invested sufficiently in experienced advisers on Asian foreign policy. “It seems he only has experts on Middle East affairs and terrorism-related issues among his diplomatic brain trust but no analyst specializing in Asian matters,” the official said.

Another official, quoted in the Mainichi Shimbun, told the newspaper Trump’s remarks “are not worth commenting on.” A separate official also dismissed the comments as an attempt to draw attention: “I think he made the remarks knowing what kind of comments will be covered (by the media).”

At least one Japanese politician has interpreted the remarks as a sign that Japan should seriously consider acquiring nuclear weapons in the event that Trump is elected and rapidly withdraws American troops from Japan. “Trump has questioned the validity of the current Japan-U.S. alliance … We may already need to start debate on whether we should keep staying away from nuclear weapons or have them as a deterrent,” the governor of Osaka, Ichiro Matsui, said earlier this week.

“What do we do if America’s military strength (in Japan) disappears?” he added. “Wishful thinking doesn’t get us anywhere.”

Some Japanese media have contended that Trump is not alone in alarming Japan. In an editorial, the Nikkei Asian Review, an English-language subsidiary of Japan’s Nikkei publication, suggests that Hillary Clinton has also exhibited signs of “isolationism” and that American displeasure at Asia could hurt Japan given China’s expansionism in the East and South China Seas. “China appears intent on establishing itself as the region’s hegemonic power. Other Asian countries, such as Japan, South Korea and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, need a strong U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region from both an economic and security perspective,” the editorial concludes.

Concerns in South Korea are similar to those in Japan, save for one key difference: Some in South Korea actively fear a nuclear Japan will herald in another imperial era, with Japan returning to its pre-WWII militaristic instincts. Given Shinzo Abe’s moves to expand Japan’s military capabilities in the face of Chinese aggression, the editors of The Korea Times write that Trump’s “isolationism” could embolden Japan. “Making the equation more complicated is the tendency of the U.S. to take an isolationist policy, as is well illustrated by Donald Trump … who claims that Korea does not pay its fair share for its defense, indicating his willingness to withdraw U.S. troops,” the column reads.

“Few appear to be listening to the echoes of ‘Tenno Heika Banzai’ (Long live the emperor!), the battle cry of the imperial Japanese soldiers charging with bayonets fixed on their rifles during their expansion period,” the editorial continues. “Historically, a militarily strong Japan has always been a problem, threatening to throw the region into flux and posing more challenges to Korea.”

Unlike Japan, Korean media encouraged the government to seek nuclear weapons before Trump’s comments. The Chosun Ilbo, one of South Korea’s largest newspapers, ran an editorial calling for nuclear armament in January, as a response to North Korea’s claims it had detonated a hydrogen bomb. “North Korea has invaded this country in the past and has not hesitated to provoke Seoul repeatedly since the ceasefire agreement was signed in 1953. If it obtains nuclear weapons, the South faces a bleak fate,” the column reads. It continues, challenging America’s commitment to protecting Seoul:

Would China come to the rescue if the North launched a nuclear attack against South Korea? Would the U.S. step in to protect Seoul? Judging by Washington’s inaction in the military crises in the Ukraine and Syria, it would probably respond only after Seoul has been turned into a pile of smoldering ashes.

South Korean political experts are divided. “Even though he is a politician of a third country, we have reached a situation where we cannot take no action,” a government officials told the JoongAng Daily anonymously. The newspaper notes that “Koreans are therefore worried about what to expect from Trump’s continued popularity during the electoral race, as his statements indicate he is open to overturning the two countries’ existing military alliance and bilateral relations.” It cites a foreign vice foreign minister Choi Young-jin, who questions whether Trump understands his own policy stances: “Trump’s remarks do not show a sense of introspection on what their results would bring about; he does not know the gravity of what he says.” Yet at least one legislator has called for South Korea to acquire nuclear weapons in the past year.

The leaders of both nations met with President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the global Nuclear Security Summit currently underway in Washington D.C. All three vowed to commit to containing North Korea and cooperating on sanctions and other measures to minimize the threat of North Korea attacking its neighbors. All issued statements reiterating their support for nuclear non-proliferation.

Nuclear Fiascoes: From Diplomatic Failure With North Korea To Debacle With Iran

September 1, 2015

Nuclear Fiascoes: From Diplomatic Failure With North Korea To Debacle With Iran, Forbes, Claudia Rosett, August 31, 2015

(An excellent comparison of the machinations that led to the nuke “deal” with North Korea and those now leading to the “deal” with the Islamic Republic of Iran. — DM)

[B]oth Clinton and Bush purchased the transient gains of North Korean nuclear deals at the cost of bolstering a North Korean regime that has become vastly more dangerous. . . . Kim Jong Un bestrides a growing arsenal of weapons of mass murder, including chemical and biological, as well as nuclear, plus a growing cyber warfare capability. This is the legacy not least of North Korea’s skill at exploiting the feckless nuclear deals offered by U.S. presidents whose real achievements on this front were to hand off a monstrous and rising threat to the next administration.

Now comes the Iran nuclear deal, which President Obama has described as a perhaps once-in-a-lifetime “historic chance to pursue a safer and more secure world.” And from Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, leader of America’s closest ally and Iran’s prime target in the Middle East, comes the warning that this deal is a “stunning historic mistake,” configured not to block Iran’s path to the bomb, but to pave the way.

Like the North Korea Agreed Framework, the Iran nuclear deal pivots narrowly on nuclear issues, as if ballistic missiles, terrorism, arms smuggling, gross violations of human rights, blatant declarations of destructive intent and the malign character of the regime itself were irrelevant to the promised “exclusively peaceful” nuclear program.

[I]f this Iran deal goes through, is that we are about to see the mistakes made with North Korea amplified on a scale that augurs not security in the 21st century, but a soaring risk of nuclear war.

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With Congress due to vote by Sept. 17 on the Iran nuclear deal, there’s a warning worth revisiting. It goes like this: The president is pushing a historic nuclear agreement, saying it will stop a terror-sponsoring tyranny from getting nuclear weapons. And up pipes the democratically elected leader of one of America’s closest allies, to say this nuclear deal is mortal folly. He warns that it is filled with concessions more likely to sustain and embolden the nuclear-weapons-seeking despotism than to disarm it.

This critic has more incentive than most to weigh the full implications of the deal, because his country is most immediately in harm’s way — though it has not been included in the nuclear talks. He notes that the nuclear negotiators have sidelined such glaring issues as human rights, and warns that Washington is naive, and the U.S. is allowing itself to be manipulated by a ruthless dictatorship.

No, the critic I’m referring to is not Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though he has warned of precisely such dangers in the Iran nuclear deal. I am citing the warnings voiced 21 years ago by the then-President of South Korea, Kim Young Sam, as the Clinton administration bargained its way toward the 1994 nuclear deal with North Korea known as the Agreed Framework.

As it turned out, Kim Young Sam’s misgivings were right on target. The 1994 Agreed Framework did not stop North Korea’s pursuit of the bomb. Instead, it became a pit stop on North Korea’s road to the nuclear arsenal it is amassing today.

For all the differences between North Korea and Iran, there are parallels enough to suggest that the failed 1994 nuclear bargain with North Korea is an excellent guide to the future trajectory with Iran, if the U.S. goes ahead with the nuclear deal — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — announced by the U.S., France, Britain, Germany, Russia, China and Iran on July 14 in Vienna.

Recall that in 1994, faced with the threat of North Korea producing plutonium for nuclear weapons, the U.S. sought a diplomatic solution. Taking a cue from an exploratory trip to Pyongyang by former President Jimmy Carter, the Clinton administration wooed North Korea with an offer of lightwater nuclear reactors to be used exclusively for the peaceful production of electricity. All Pyongyang had to do was give up its nuclear bomb program.

As this agreement was taking shape, South Korea’s Kim Young Sam laid out his concerns in an hourlong interview with the New York Times. In the resulting article, dated Oct. 8, 1994, the Times reported: “After weeks of watching in silent frustration as the United States tries to negotiate a halt to North Korea’s nuclear program, President Kim Young Sam of South Korea lashed out at the Clinton administration today in an interview for what he characterized as a lack of knowledge and an overeagerness to compromise.”

The Times article described Kim’s concerns that “compromises might prolong the life of the North Korean government and would send the wrong signal to its leaders.” Kim was quoted as denouncing the deal then in the making as a “half-baked compromise” which would lead to “more danger and peril.”

President Clinton rolled right past that warning. On Oct. 21, 1994, less than two weeks after Kim’s concerns hit the headlines, the U.S. signed the Agreed Framework with North Korea. Clinton praised the deal as “good for the United States, good for our allies, and good for the safety of the entire world.” Promising that the Agreed Framework would reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation, Clinton further lauded the deal as “a crucial step for drawing North Korea into the global community.”

South Koreans and their leaders, in the main, disagreed. But with South Korea dependent on the U.S. superpower for defense against North Korea, Kim Young Sam had little choice but to follow Clinton’s lead. Seoul damned the deal with faint praise. The Associated Press reported: “South Korean Foreign Minister Han Sung-joo said that even though the deal fell short of expectations, it met South Korea’s minimum policy goals.”

History now shows that the chief policy goals served by the Agreed Framework were those of Pyongyang, which racked up a highly successful exercise in nuclear extortion, and carried on, first secretly, then overtly, with its nuclear weapons program. As South Korea’s president had predicted, the Agreed Framework helped fortify Pyongyang’s totalitarian regime, rather than transforming it.

Some of the negotiators involved in that 1994 deal have since argued that while the North Korean agreement eventually collapsed, it did at least delay Pyongyang’s progress toward nuclear weapons. What they tend to omit from that select slice of history is that the Agreed Framework helped rescue a North Korean regime which in 1994 was on the ropes. Just three years earlier, North Korea’s chief patron of decades past, the Soviet Union, had collapsed. The longtime Soviet subsidies to Pyongyang had vanished. China did not yet have the wealth to easily step in. And just three months before the nuclear deal was struck, North Korea’s founding tyrant, Kim Il Sung, died. His son and heir, Kim Jong Il, faced the challenge of consolidating power during a period of famine at home and American superpower ascendancy abroad.

But in the game of nuclear chicken, it was America that blinked. In exchange for North Korea’s promise to freeze and eventually dismantle its nuclear weapons program, the U.S. agreed to lead a $4.6 billion consortium to build two lightwater reactors for North Korea, and provide shipments of free heavy fuel oil for heating and electricity production while the new reactors were being built. This was augmented by U.S. security guarantees, easing of sanctions and promises to move toward normalizing diplomatic relations, with generous food aid thrown in.

By the late 1990s, just a few years into the deal, North Korea had become the largest recipient of U.S. aid in East Asia. That did not curb Kim Jong Il’s hostile ways. The Pyongyang regime put the interests of its military and its weapons programs before the needs of its starving population. In 1998, North Korea launched a long-range missile over Japan, a test for which it was hard to discern any purpose other than developing a vehicle to carry nuclear weapons. By that time, as a number of former Clinton administration officials have since confirmed, the U.S. was seeing signs that North Korea was cheating on the nuclear deal by pursuing a secret program for uranium enrichment.

Instead of confronting North Korea, Clinton during his last two years in office tried to double down on his crumbling nuclear deal by pursuing a missile deal with Pyongyang. In 2000, that led to an exchange of high-ranking officials, in which the Clinton administration dignified North Korea with the unprecedented move of welcoming one of its top-ranking military officials, Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok, to a 45-minute sitdown with Clinton at the White House. Clinton then dispatched Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, together with the administration’s special advisor for North Korea policy, Wendy Sherman, to Pyongyang (yes, the same Wendy Sherman recently employed by Obama as chief negotiator of the Iran nuclear deal). Sherman and Albright brought North Korea’s Kim Jong Il a basketball signed by star player Michael Jordan; Kim entertained them with a stadium flip-card depiction of a long-range missile launch. There was no missile deal.

North Korea continued raking in U.S. largesse until late 2002, when the Bush administration finally confronted Pyongyang over its nuclear cheating. North Korea then walked away from the 1994 deal (on which it had by then been cheating for years), withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (on which it had also been cheating) and began reprocessing plutonium from the spent fuel rods which despite the 1994 deal had never been removed from its Yongbyon nuclear complex. President Bush then made his own stab at nuclear diplomacy, via the Six-Party Talks. North Korea punctuated that process in Oct. 2006 with its first nuclear test. In 2007, the Bush administration led the way to a Six-Party denuclearization deal with North Korea, bull-dozing ahead even after it became clear that North Korea had been helping Syria build a secret copy of North Korea’s plutonium-producing Yongbyon reactor (destroyed in Sept. 2007 by an Israeli air strike). Once again, North Korea took the concessions, cheated on the deal and in late 2008 walked away.

Since Obama took office, North Korea has carried out its second and third nuclear tests, in 2009 and 2013; restarted its plutonium-producing reactor at Yongbyon; and in 2010 unveiled a uranium enrichment plant, which appears to have since at least doubled in size. Having equipped itself with both uranium and plutonium pathways to the bomb, North Korea is now making nuclear weapons, and developing increasingly sophisticated missiles — including long-range — to deliver them.

In sum, both Clinton and Bush purchased the transient gains of North Korean nuclear deals at the cost of bolstering a North Korean regime that has become vastly more dangerous. When Kim Jong Il died in late 2011, North Korea’s regime managed a second transition of power, to third-generation Kim family tyrant Kim Jong Un — who was described last year by the commander of U.S. Forces in Korea, General Curtis Scaparrotti, as “overconfident and unpredictable.” Kim Jong Un bestrides a growing arsenal of weapons of mass murder, including chemical and biological, as well as nuclear, plus a growing cyber warfare capability. This is the legacy not least of North Korea’s skill at exploiting the feckless nuclear deals offered by U.S. presidents whose real achievements on this front were to hand off a monstrous and rising threat to the next administration.

Now comes the Iran nuclear deal, which President Obama has described as a perhaps once-in-a-lifetime “historic chance to pursue a safer and more secure world.” And from Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, leader of America’s closest ally and Iran’s prime target in the Middle East, comes the warning that this deal is a “stunning historic mistake,” configured not to block Iran’s path to the bomb, but to pave the way.

There are surely dissertations to be written on the intricate differences between the North Korea Agreed Framework and the Iran nuclear deal now before Congress. But important and alarming similarities abound.

Like the North Korea deal, the Iran deal dignifies a despotic, murderous regime, and provides its worst elements with relief from economic distress, via a flood of rejuvenating resources. In North Korea’s case, the main help arrived in the form of aid. In oil-rich Iran’s case, it comes in the far more lucrative form of sanctions relief, including access to an estimated $55 billion or more (by some estimates, two or three times that amount) in currently frozen funds held abroad.

Like the North Korea Agreed Framework, the Iran nuclear deal pivots narrowly on nuclear issues, as if ballistic missiles, terrorism, arms smuggling, gross violations of human rights, blatant declarations of destructive intent and the malign character of the regime itself were irrelevant to the promised “exclusively peaceful” nuclear program.

Like the North Korea deal, the Iran deal comes loaded with incentives for the U.S. administration to protect its own diplomatic claims of success by ignoring signs of cheating. Monitoring of nuclear facilities is shunted to the secretive International Atomic Energy Agency, which has no power of enforcement, and will have to haggle with Iran for access to suspect sites.

Like Clinton with North Korea, Obama chose to frame the Iran deal not as a treaty, but as an executive agreement, performing an end-run around vigorous dissent within Congress by submitting the deal pronto for approval by the United Nations Security Council. In the North Korean case, the Security Council gave its unanimous blessing in the form of a presidential statement. In the Iran case, the Obama administration drafted a resolution which the Security Council unanimously approved. Having hustled the deal directly to the U.N., despite legislation meant to ensure Congress a voice, Obama administration officials are now pressuring Congress to defer to the U.N.

To be sure, there are two highly significant differences between the 1994 North Korea deal and the 2015 Iran deal. Iran, with its oil wealth, location in the heart of the Middle East, messianic Islamic theocracy and global terror networks, is even more dangerous to the world than North Korea. And, bad as the North Korea deal was, the Iran deal is much worse. Along with its secret side agreements and its promises to lift the arms embargo on Iran in five years and the missile embargo in eight, this deal lets Iran preserve its large illicitly built nuclear infrastructure and carry on enriching uranium, subject to constraints that will be problematic to enforce, and are themselves limited by sunset clauses that even North Korea never managed to obtain at the bargaining table.

When Israel’s Netanyahu spoke this past March to a joint meeting of Congress, warning that the Iran nuclear deal would lead to “a much more dangerous Iran, a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare,” Obama dismissed that speech as “nothing new.” That’s true, in the sense that we have heard similar warnings before. What’s new, if this Iran deal goes through, is that we are about to see the mistakes made with North Korea amplified on a scale that augurs not security in the 21st century, but a soaring risk of nuclear war.