North Korea Clearly Saw ‘Iran Gaming The System,’ Expert Says

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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North Korea’s nuclear test yesterday shows that the hermit country has learned something from the Iran nuclear deal, continuing a tradition of the two countries learning from each other to outwit the international community.

The two nations have had a long history of sharing weapons technology with one-another, however, it may be the case that North Korea learned an important lesson regarding U.S. foreign policy after the Iran deal was finalized last year. A lesson that may have impacted its decision to go forward with a fourth nuclear test, defying international condemnation and U.N. resolutions.

Speaking to the Daily Caller News Foundation, Georgetown University professor Matthew Kroenig, an author and expert on matters of nuclear security, claims that North Korea recognized “Iran gaming the system” after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. In turn, Kroenig notes that if one examines the 1994 deal that North Korea brokered (and has repeatedly violated) with the U.S., there are similarities in provisions with the JCPOA.

Indeed, even the language used to sell the public on both deals was eerily similar. President Bill Clinton said in 1994 that “The United States and international inspectors will carefully monitor North Korea to make sure it keeps its commitments. Only as it does so will North Korea fully join the community of nations.”

Regarding the Iran deal, President Barack Obama said last year that “international inspectors will have unprecedented access not only to Iranian nuclear facilities, but to the entire supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program – from uranium mills that provide the raw materials, to the centrifuge production and storage facilities that support the program.

“North Korea has played the U.S. time and time again,” notes Kroenig. North Korea’s nuclear test comes about six months after the Iran deal was finalized. Since the agreement, Iran has extended its influence across the Middle East and tested two ballistic missiles, in violation of a U.N. resolution. In kind, North Korea also violated a U.N. resolution when it tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile in December.

North Korea has seen no repercussions from the international community for its missile test thus far. In response to Iran’s breach, President Obama announced a new round of sanctions against the country’s missile program last week, however, the White House has since delayed implementing them. (RELATED: Obama To Announce New Sanctions On Iran’s Missile Program)

Kroenig describes the Obama’s North Korea strategy as “strategic patience.” He explains that with diplomatic options exhausted and limited willingness and ability to engage in military options, the White House can do little more than wait. “The policy is a failure and has allowed the threat to grow,” he adds, “North Korea now has around 30 nuclear warheads.”

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