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For a clue to Trump and Iran, watch Trump and North Korea

The frail nuclear deal with Iran adopted by the previous US administration is partly responsible for North Korea’s longing to develop its nuclear program. Iran was rewarded with $150 billion in a deal to restore the money it lost during the Shah’s era; it was also awarded huge contracts to develop its technical and manufacturing capabilities, and most of the international sanctions were lifted.

Besieged North Korea has also chosen to blackmail the world since it turned out to be a good business. Just as Iran was threatening to burn Israel, North Korea started threatening to burn Japan. Its second nuclear missile test two weeks ago was successfully launched over the skies of Japan. There is no more doubt about the danger of North Korea.

Washington has two choices; sign a deal with North Korean President Kim Jong Un, similar to that of Tehran, or break the deal with the Iranians while coming up with new ideas to undermine the capabilities of the two nuclear countries.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, spoke about both threats in a seminar at the Enterprise Institute. She warned that the nuclear deal with Iran, if unchanged, could allow Tehran to pose the same threat as North Korea. Will the current US administration be able to break the deal signed with Iran two years ago? Haley does not even suggest breaking it completely, but rather she calls to amend it, so that the regime would not be able to develop military nuclear capabilities in secret. She linked the deal with Iran’s actions in the region, after Iranian forces and militias interfered in conflicts in several countries to impose their influence.

The US president has about two weeks to decide whether to recertify Tehran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, and how he confronts Kim Jong Un’s aggression is a message about what his decision will be.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

US President Donald Trump does not have a lot of time to decide on his position; he is left with almost two weeks before informing the US Congress if Iran is committed to the terms of the deal or not. If he says that Iran is not committed, then the Congress will re-apply sanctions, and Iran has already threatened that, if this happens, it will consider the deal null and will resume its military nuclear project.
The Gulf and regional countries do not have the ability to deter the Iranian regime or break the deal. From the beginning, the Gulf point of view was that the draft deal was theoretically good but the signed one was bad, because it delays but does not annul the Iranian military nuclear activity, and that lifting sanctions was not related to the termination of Iran’s hostile military activities. If Iran succeeds in controlling or dominating major countries such as Iraq and Syria in the next few years, Tehran’s ability will double and it will be able to impose its military nuclear project; the nuclear deal will be meaningless by then. It will be difficult for the international community to impose sanctions on Iran because of the latter’s enormous influence.
Iran is watching what Trump will do in North Korea, as this will represent an indirect message to Tehran. Trump is not Obama; he will not send gifts to Iran and will not stand still in the face of Iran’s offense; this, at least, is my assessment.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya News Channel, and former editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, where this article is also published.