Henry Sokolski, the executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, says the Iranian leaders are watching very closely how the Bush Administration handles North Korea.
Earlier this summer, I attended a meeting in Geneva that included Tehran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and several members of Iran's Expediency Council. After the formal session, they pulled me aside. The one question -- the only question -- they pressed me about was what Washington planned to do about North Korea.
The Iranians want to know whether the US is going to let the North Korean regime become a nuclear power and nuclear proliferator. If the answer is yes then that is going to be a big green light for the Iranians to do the same.
As Sokolski makes clear, if North Korea and Iran go nuclear there are other potential nuclear powers waiting in the wings.
Saudi Arabia, who helped bankroll Pakistan's bomb project and has medium-range rockets of its own, has already had officials visit Islamabad's bomb factory in Kahuta. There's even been talk about Pakistan loaning some of its nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia, keeping them under Pakistani control (like the U.S. does with its weapons in Germany). Egypt and Syria, meanwhile, are planning nuclear desalinization plants (i.e., big reactors producing material which could be used for nuclear weapons).
Algeria, which was caught in 1991 covertly developing a reactor that might make bombs, now has it on line. Finally, Turkey, a close friend to Israel, has made it clear that Iran going nuclear would force Ankara to secure new "security assurances."
Sokolski thinks the United States is still sending mixed signals to North Korea in terms of just how serious the US is about stopping North Korea's nuclear weapons program. I have to agree with that assessment. The Bush Administration has not clearly indicated just how far it is willing to go to stop North Korea's nuclear program. The Bush Administration has not only been insufficiently clear with North Korea but with North Korea's number 1 and number 2 enablers South Korea and China as well. What price do the Chinese and South Koreans have to pay, if any, for continuing to supply and to conduct trade with North Korea? Nothing so far and there are no indications that the Bush Administration is going to make them pay a real price for their enabling roles.
Until the Bush Administration changes course we are going to continue to approach the point where there will be a total breakdown of efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 August 24 07:56 PM US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control|