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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

From Pyongyang to Tehran, with nukes

They already both share a stunna shade designer... could they share nuclear expertise with each other next?

This is an interesting take on North Korea. I think the article makes valid points, but what worries me the most, as stated by many other much more learned academics and practicioners than I, is how North Korea is unpredictable due to the psychoses of its "Dear Leader." Kim Jong Il is not mentally stable, whereas the leaders of the Soviet Union and United States during the Cold War were (I guess you can argue clutzy Ford might not have been due to the frequent concussions he gave himself or Reagan wasn't mentally stable towards the end of his second term, but both were still more stable and predictable than Kim). Meanwhile, Iran, while still a little unpredictable, isn't as bad as North Korea and is basically predictable. The Iranians talk a mean game, but we know and they know they, the Persians, are not well liked by the Arabs... I think part of the reason they always talk tough to Israel is just to gain favor with the world majority Sunni Arabs and Sunni Palestinians and maintain peace with the Arab world.

Anyhow, this article talks about the scary possibility of an Iranian-North Korean nuclear development deal. Here is an excerpt:

But it is what North Korea did not threaten that should give us greatest concern: expanded nuclear and missile cooperation with Iran. The two countries' abilities and needs are highly complementary, and past collaboration tells us that the diplomatic channels may be as well...

Of course, there is a terrifying way that North Korea could overcome its limitation while simultaneously helping another nuclear aspirant: It could work with Iran. Pyongyang lacks uranium centrifuge materials, technology, and know-how; Tehran has mastered them. Pyongyang has practical uranium metallurgy capabilities; Tehran has little. Pyongyang has its own nuclear test data; Tehran does not. Pyongyang knows all facets of plutonium technology; Tehran has little more than a plutonium-producing reactor under construction. Pyongyang helped Tehran establish a missile capability; now, Tehran's crash missile-test program and Pyongyang's long-range rocket tests could prove mutually beneficial.

Preventing escalation of nuclear and missile cooperation is critical to avoid destabilizing Northeast Asia and the Middle East. The urgency of this threat is underscored by North Korea's recent covert construction of a nuclear reactor in Syria and its extensive ongoing cooperation in missile technology with Iran. At least in its nuclear reach, Pyongyang isn't quite as isolated as it seems.

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