National Security & Defense

The Corner

No, the Iran Deal Isn’t a Blueprint for Dealing With North Korea

I’m seeing this argument make the rounds online:

Unfortunately, North Korea cheated. It maintained a secret uranium-enrichment program, and the deal collapsed soon after the Bush administration confronted the North Koreans with evidence of their noncompliance.

Given this history, the Iran Deal may well be the worst possible model. For example, agreement with Iran famously provides the regime up to 24 days of notice before inspectors are allowed access to some suspect cites, and a regime with a record of cheating like North Korea’s is the worst possible regime to grant any leeway or any trust. Moreover that same deal granted Iran enormous economic benefits, access to international arms markets, and the ability to build ballistic missiles. A similar deal with North Korea would have the potential to supercharge the DPRK threat.

That’s not to say that no agreement could work. Deals depend on their terms, obviously, but any deal based on the Iran model puts America in a position of weakness. In fact, given the failure of the North Korean beta test, the Iran Deal itself is difficult to understand. Remember the old saying — fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. But what if we’re fooled three times? That just makes us fools. 

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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