HOME About Blog Contact Hotel Links Donations Registration
NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Thursday, July 06, 2006

North Korea And Iran Similar Problems But Different Solutions

Thu, 6 Jul 2006, 00:46

London: International concern over North Korea's missile testing brings the issue of Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions back to the forefront alongside those of Iran, strategic affairs experts said Wednesday. But possible solutions to resolving both crises differ, with the United States and possibly China playing a key role, they added.

Although the United Nations Security Council is now considering North Korea's actions, Francois Gere, president of the Paris-based French Institute of Strategic Analysis (IFAS), told AFP the approaches have been different.

"The North Korean question is being considered mainly within a regional framework and is linked to regional stability," he said.

"Iran is being dealt with by the international community at the level of the UN and its affiliates like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)."

In 2002, the United States named Iran and North Korea with Iraq as part of the "axis of evil", rogue states bent on acquiring and developing weapons of mass destruction.

According to Gere, isolated North Korea "almost certainly" has nuclear weapons already while the current international imperative is to make sure the Islamic republic is not heading in the same direction.

But it is a "proven fact and practically official" that there is very close cooperation between Tehran and Pyongyang over ballistic missiles, he added.

"Is there a political link (between the two countries over nuclear weapons)? No-one knows. But given the nature of both regimes, it would not be out of the question," he added.

Iran, which insists its nuclear enrichment programme is for peaceful purposes, is still deciding whether to accept an incentives package offered by Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

Meanwhile, disarmament talks involving North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States have been stalled since last year over Pyongyang's objections to the US imposition of financial sanctions.

Alexander Neill, the head of the Asia security programme at the London-based international defence think-tank the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), suggested China could play a key role resolving both issues.

One possible route could be through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which comprises China, Russia and a number of central Asian states, he told AFP.

Once a little-known regional body, the SCO has grown in influence and scope in recent years, developing closer political, security, diplomatic and trade ties.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited an SCO summit in China in June as an observer, raising the possibility that Beijing might use the perception of the SCO as a "counterbalance" to US interest in the east and central Asia region to begin a dialogue with Tehran, he added.

On North Korea, he pointed to recent visits to China by the country's autocratic president, Kim Jong-Il, and both countries' status as "Marxist buddies in arms" as a possible way in.

"In the short-term, the focus of diplomatic efforts will be on China and to a lesser extent Russia to get the North Koreans talking," he added.

Mark Fitzpatrick, director of the non-proliferation programme at the International Institute for Strategic Affairs (IISS) in London, agreed China could exert some influence, bilaterally with North Korea and as a major trading partner with Iran.

But he said the onus was on the United States, as the world's only superpower, to find a way of being flexible and engaging with North Korea in the same way it offered direct talks with Iran.

"With North Korea it's different in that North Korea doesn't want multi-lateral talks. It wants bilateral talks," the former US State Department diplomat told AFP.

"There's a... presumption against bilateral talks with a regime that you find odious.

"I think this ideological block has prevented the Bush administration from finding a more subtle way of offering North Korea a way out.

"It's logical that Washington should not be seen to be offering carrots after the provocation of a missile test but eventually it really needs to find a way of dealing with this regime."
Web IntelligenceSummit.org
Webmasters: Intelligence, Homeland Security & Counter-Terrorism WebRing
Copyright © IHEC 2008. All rights reserved.       E-mail info@IntelligenceSummit.org