North Korea in the Eyes of Iran

As the U.S. tries to unite a divided international community around its its strategy over North Korea, Iran finds itself in an unusual position in the nuclear proliferation diplomacy wars -- as spectator.

It's probably no surprise that North Korea's July 4 missile test made front page news in the Islamic republic.

Though the biggest missile failed, Pyonyang's salvo impressed the Iranian online media as a demonstration of the limits of U.S. power. Pro-government and anti-government news sites alike see North Korea's provocation as a plus for the Iranian government, which is in the midst of preparing a response to the Bush administration's offer to negotiate over the establishment of international controls of Iran's nuclear program.

The Iran News in Tehran wonders if North Korea was imitating Iran by taking a "resolute" stand.

"The thinking in Pyongyang may be that Iran got a better deal on its nuclear proram from the West by standing resolute and the North should try its luck by forcing the U.S., South Korea, Japan, Russia and China to give Pyongyang more incentives," say the editors.

The news site, which made news recently for its open criticism of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's economic policies, says the United Nations has a limited appetite for punitive actions against North Korea.

"It remains doubtful the Security Council could reach a consensus on sanctions (let alone military action) against Pyongyang anytime soon. The fact is that diplomacy remains the only game in town."

Defying the United States, they conclude, may "actually help the six-party talks and eventually bring the reclusive Pyongyang leadership back to the table."

Bush policy toward North Korea, said the conservative Mehr News, "has only given rise to an intensification of animosity and talk of an arms race in Northeast Asia, encouraging Japan to make moves to revise its pacifist constitution, to the alarm of its neighbors, who still have bitter memories of World War II."

Professor Kim Yeon-Chul of Korea University's Asiatic Research Centre told the Tehran news and culture site that "North Korea's nuclear and missile capability has been ever growing under the Bush administration. This raises questions about the moralistic approach in diplomacy by Washington."

"Extremism begets extremism," says Mehr News. "This is not an acceptable policy for dealing with regional and international issues.

The Iran News, another pro-government site, took care last week to distinguish Iran from North Korea and with the suggestion that U.S. efforts to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council are unwarranted.

"Iran is neither Iraq under Saddam Hussein nor North Korea under Kim Il Song and Kim Jung Il. Iran is a very important geo-political, geo-strategic and geo-economic power regionally and internationally. Iranians do not deserve the humiliation associated with referral to the UN Security Council and being branded as a pariah within the international community."

But an editorial in E'temad, one of the few reformist publications still allowed to publish, implied the strategies of Pyonyang and Tehran are not all that different.

North Korea is diverting attention from its internal difficulties to "foreign enemies," said the editors.

The government has "has obstructed protests and the peaceful transition [of power]" while seeking to "rally the people behind them and instill pride in them."

The North Koreans, they say, seek to identify "foreign contention and stone-throwing by the West" as "the causes of the country's internal problems."

That sounds like what many Iranian dissidents say about the Tehran government: that it uses the nuclear issue to distract attention from its failure to deliver economic growth.

Not surprisingly, E'temad-e Melli's solution for the North Korean crisis closely mirrors the solution to the Iranian nuclear impasse favored by many Iranian reformists.

"Interaction with the West and reaching some guarantees in return for a two-sided deal will not only lift the heavy burden of unnecessary expenses from the shoulders of the government, but will also put bread on the people's tables," the editors said.

By Jefferson Morley |  July 11, 2006; 8:42 AM ET  | Category:  Asia
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Iran: Enriching Islamic Fundamentalism
The fact of the matter is that while the eyes of the world are on the enriched uranium it is the enriched extremism, which the Iranian government represents and advocates, that they should focus on. It is the proliferation of the latter that intends to devastate the world by whatever means possible.
A nuclear weapon does not have as much power as fundamentalist and extremist Islam. A bomb, as destructive and unjustified as it may be, is only a device. But radical and extremist Islam is a philosophy far more powerful and dangerous. It first assaults the minds of its disenchanted victims who turn to violence against innocent people to spread their message of intolerance.
The answer lies in the putrid, extremist, and the fascist ideology they truly believe in. Khamenei and his ideology preach the concept that their brand of religion is more important than the people, nation, and the rule of law.

Eight years of Khatami's reign invalidated the claims of reform or moderation. The 3 years of EU-3 dialogue only served in providing Iran additional time to pass the nuclear Red Line. The mostly "carrot", little "stick" policies have also served to embolden the Iranian regime's terrorism activities in the region, including Iraq. The interference in Iraq and supporting the murder of innocent Iraqis, for example, is the means to an apocalyptic chaos dictated by the Mullahs' supreme leader.
What the nations of the world now need is not a war against Iran. On the other hand, appeasing the Iranian government has not and will not rein the mullahs' ambitions for gaining regional and global prestige through fear. As in the past it will only embolden them.
Rooting out the extremism by changing the regime in Iran by the Iranian people and their main resistance, lead by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi is the antidote to the disease that has infected Iran and intends to spread throughout the world. Then worries about a nuclear Iran, an Iran-controlled Iraq and an extremist region would subside and the world will be a better and more peaceful place to live for everybody.
Nasser Rashidi ( an expert on Iran and a human rights activist. He is currently with the National Coalition of Pro-Democracy Advocates (

Posted by: Nasser Rashidi | July 11, 2006 09:47 AM

"Rooting out the extremism by changing the regime in Iran by the Iranian people and their main resistance, lead by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi is the antidote to the disease that has infected Iran and intends to spread throughout the world." Rajavi is not the solution for Iran buddy...Americans dont know who she is... Many Iranians against the regime despise her and her lackey husband...who coincidentally fought against their own country on the side of Iraq...if Rajavi and her ilk are not traitors to the Mihan then I do not know what is...Save your breath for cooling your porridge...

Posted by: Freedom | July 11, 2006 12:25 PM

The only thing Iran and North Korea have in common is that they were both labeled part of the "Axis of Evil" by President Bush. What is needed now is the absence of "heated" rhetoric by all parties to these disputes, and get down to some serious negotiations for long term agreements. North Korea needs to quit firing missiles in the direction of Japan, otherwise we may see some changes in Japan's Constitution and a more militant foreign policy emerge. If left alone, Japan presents no danger to any Country.

Posted by: P. J. Casey | July 11, 2006 01:52 PM

Whats this really points out to me is the relative impotence of Bush's policies. There is hardly any "stick" that can reasonably be used on either NK or Iran. And really very little carrot.

But here is another way these two countries are very similar...although both countries desire a dialogue with the US, our government refuses to sit down and talk to them. Really, when does it hurt to hear what the other side has to say? How can this be good policy?

So with Mr. Magoo (sorry for those of you under 30 yrs old) at the helm, we will continue to bump along. What will get Magoo to put on his glasses? A "sucessful" launch of a long range missle, a test of an warhead? What?

I think every tinpot dictator has learned the lesson, get WMD and survive.

Posted by: WOW | July 11, 2006 06:06 PM

North Korea and Iran are ganging up on the US. Our government's reaction is totally predictable and our media is easily manipulated. Both Iran and NK know that US reaction will be to threaten military action and not follow up. They also know the most of the world will not support the US position. Therefore the policies of Iran and NK are easily understood - the US will make idle threats that cannot be enforced, and most governments of the world will take political positions in opposition to the US. It is we, not Iran or even NK who are isolated in the eyes of the world, which includes billions more people than our allies in Western Europe. Look for both countries to continue pushing our hot buttons continuously while Bush remains in office and US troops remain in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Posted by: Paul Wolf | July 11, 2006 11:00 PM

No! The Iranian government pans out enough humiliation for Iranians the world over. It is not a question of whether or not Iranians deserve more shame but rather a question of saturation. Iraq had only one Saddam Hussein and North Korea only one Kim as dictator at a given moment. Iran has an entire supreme council of zealots pulling the strings of one fanatic president. Surely the barrels of Islamo-nationalist propaganda consumed by Iranians at the hands of these tyrants can only prime public sentiment for hostility against any sort of action or criticism passed by an International body; especially in light of the fact that the Islamic Republic is quick to silence the voices of reason or skepticism towards its policies. Obviously a government bent on power and the cultivation of theocracy, a government that freely violates the civil & humane rights of all its citizens, has a singular agenda for nuclear capabilities. This agenda cannot be for peaceful purpose, but rather for the ability to wield at will friction and conflict on the geo-political, geo-strategic and geo-economic stages. Iran is vying for power on an international field occupied by powers using terror as justification for the spread of their own brands of democracy & capitalism. What better piece for Iran to have than the ability to take hostage Terror at will?

Posted by: Kambiz Tavabi | July 12, 2006 04:10 AM

Iran, as most other nations, try to influence events in their region as well as the rest of the world. It is fairly difficult for us in the west to criticise that. Developing nuclear energi is also on the rise in the western world, now that tschernobyl (spelling?) is more or less forgotten. So despite the oil-reserves in Iran, its also difficult for us to criticise that. Now, nuclear weapons on the other hand is a scary subject. I would think most people in most countries are against any production, research or use of such weapons. Governments on the other hand, seem to have a more complex relationship with these weapons. I remember there was alot of talk about USA using nuclear-bunker-bombs against Iraq, and that Bush had started some sort of nuclear weapon developing/research project. IF this is true its pretty difficult to stop nuclear prolification. And even without that, as long as these weapons are used as a threat/leverage, others will want them. So please, all leaders in all countries; listen to the people and abolish nuclear weapons for ever.

Posted by: No Nukes | July 13, 2006 07:12 AM

The acquisition, development and stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction has been a permanent feature of Iran's clerical regime's defense policy since the very beginning, and remains so today. Khatami has chaired a series of Supreme National Security Council meetings in recent months to review the regime's military doctrine. In these meetings, the SNSC approved the "doctrine of asymmetric warfare."

The mullahs' strategists argue that since the regime's armed forces stand no chance in a conventional confrontation in the age of highly advanced military technology and ultra-modern weapons, they must resort to other tactics, including terrorist attacks and the use of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, ballistic missiles.

Brig. Gen. Mohammad-Ali Jaafari, commander of the Revolutionary Guards' army, told the official IRNA news agency on October 9: "As the likely enemy is far more advanced technologically than we are, we have been using what is called 'asymmetric warfare' methods." We have gone through the necessary exercises and our forces are now well prepared for this."

On July 16, Hashemi Rafsanjani declared: "We must prepare ourselves to confront the enemy's new aggression. We shall respond to this aggression by striking at their heartland."

Khatami had earlier declared on August 1, 1998 that "Iran will not ask for anyone's permission to develop its defense capabilities."

Posted by: max | July 16, 2006 11:30 PM

The Sunday Telegraph - Iran was thrust to the forefront of widening conflict in the Middle East last night when Israel and America blamed it for supplying the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah with sophisticated weapons to fight a proxy war against the Jewish state.

Israeli intelligence claimed that 100 Iranian Revolutionary Guards were in Lebanon helping Hezbollah, and that their weapons would enable Hezbollah to strike with devastating force at Israel's armed forces and civilian population as far south as the capital, Tel Aviv.

The joint accusation came as two waves of Hezbollah rockets fell on the city of Tiberias on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, normally packed at this time of year with holidaymakers, and making good the group's threat to strike deep into northern Israel.

Meanwhile Israel widened its military campaign in Lebanon, which has so far killed more than 80 people, mostly civilians.

For the first time, warplanes hit targets in northern Lebanon, including a border crossing point to Syria, but the worst casualties remained in the south where at least 20 villagers who were trying to escape the fighting were reported killed when their convoy was apparently hit by an Israeli rocket attack.

The victims, including 15 children, were fleeing the village of Marwaheen only a mile or so from the border after being ordered by Israeli forces to do so or see their houses flattened.

Israeli aircraft also struck Hezbollah's main office in Beirut and hit petrol stations, bridges and roads across the country.

The escalating war, and the effects of Hezbollah's enhanced new arsenal, were also clear at sea, as an Israeli warship with 80 sailors on board was towed back to the country's northern port of Haifa after being struck by a long-distance missile.

The rocket started a huge blaze and knocked out the ship's steering system, with one crewman confirmed dead and three others missing.

Israel said that Iranian soldiers had helped Hezbollah with the attack. Meanwhile United States intelligence agencies in Washington have disclosed that Iran may have supplied some of its most feared and up-to-date weapons to Hezbollah.

The munitions in question are Iran's 240mm Fajr3 missile, which has a range of 25 miles, and the 333mm Fajr5, with a range of about 45 miles, carrying a warhead of up to 90kg.

Israeli military sources said the warship was hit by a Chinese-designed, Iranian-built C80 radar-guided missile.

"We can confirm that it was hit by an Iranian-made missile launched by Hezbollah," said Brig Gen Ido Nehushtan.

The range of such missiles means that the crippled ship will not be safe even when it docks for repairs in the city of Haifa, 20 miles south of the Lebanese border.

But, newly armed and newly determined, Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, promised that Haifa would not mark the limits of the Lebanese group's attacks, and extended-range versions of the weapons in its control could reach Tel Aviv, more than three times as far.

The reality of the threat became clear when Tiberias, a holiday and retirement town 22 miles from the Lebanese border, yesterday became the target deepest into Israel that Hezbollah has ever struck. Five rockets landed in the city, two in residential areas, in the first attack it has faced since the 1973 Yom Kippur war. There were no injuries to add to the four Israelis who have already been killed by Hezbollah rockets in recent days. In one apartment block a missile ripped through the top three floors, punching a hole in a wall before splintering furniture and shattering windows.

"The people in those apartments were away, so we were very, very lucky no one was killed," said Ron Cobi, 34, whose parents were in the flat one floor further down. "My parents are in their 70s and very shocked and scared. Right now they're in the building's bunker."

Hezbollah's ability to hit Israeli targets such as the warship has fundamentally altered the balance of power on the battlefield. While Israel, which is widely thought to possess nuclear weapons, retains one of the best-trained, best-equipped armies in the world, its principal adversaries in the past six years have been poorly equipped Palestinian -militants.

In Gaza and the West Bank, the worst that Israeli armour has to face are Kalashnikov-wielding enemies, who sometimes wear suicide belts in a usually fruitless attempt to increase their killing power.

That imbalance has enabled Israeli forces to remain on the ground in Gaza for the past three weeks, sustaining only one casualty. In the first days of the war on the northern front, the military death toll has passed 10.

In Gaza, Palestinian casualties since the conflict began reached almost 80 yesterday, after two more people were killed in Israeli air strikes. At least one was reported to be a bystander as Israel hit what it described as a "rocket -factory".

President George W Bush himself singled out Damascus rather than Teheran for most criticism yesterday as a backer of Hezbollah. Asked about reports that Syria and Iran had been "operationally involved" with Hezbollah's attacks, Mr Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said: "At the end of the day people have choices to make and Syria is making bad choices... They have a choice to make and so far they made a wrong choice."

Posted by: SAATCHI | July 16, 2006 11:36 PM

The ayatollah's fundamentalist ideology pose the biggest threat to the world community. Appeasement and war represent the flip side of the same coin with respect to them both being failures in policy towards Iran. The world must have a third option. There should be more of a focus on the Iranian opposition to the current regime. Maryam Rajavi and the opposition she leads seem to be the world's best hope in countering the mullahs in Iran. The media should do more to inform the people about her struggle.

Posted by: Sonny | July 18, 2006 12:48 PM

The U.S. and Israel are like muscle bound behemoths: they don't know when to rein in their power. After at least a century and a half of modern era terrorism, starting with the nihilist and narodniki of Russia, imperial states still don't get it, even though their apparatchiks have coined the term, asymmetrical warfare. The more power a state uses against terrorist, the greater the asymmetry, which, unless every vestige of the terrorist is eliminated, results in victory for the terrorist. I imagine think tanks have calculated the ratio of the respective resources used by each side to produce a kill. In comparison to the imperialist state, I suspect terrorist get by on the cheap in respect to funds and materials used; their greatest resource is the great mass of disaffected youth in the third world. The question is whether the imperial powers will feel the pinch of the financial burden of asymmetrical warfare before the terrorists run out of willing martyrs? Israel's current offensive, for all the destruction it has wrought, only has succeeded in increasing the human arsenal of the terrorists; every bomb recruits a thousand more eager suicide bombers. If the cause of all this carnage was the abduction of a couple of soldiers, then the Israelis picked the wrong tool in their arsenal. They are known for their skill in counter terrorist raids using small groups of highly trained commandos; they are also very adept in surgical rocket strikes to eliminate high officials of terrorist organizations. Why did they unleash such relatively massive power in this instance? A big brute wins respect for using minimum force to fend off a drunk, pestering wimp in a bar, but would be roundly condemned if he beat the geek into a bloodily pulp, regardless of how irritating the pest was (a principle of classic self-defense is minimum force it to be used). Israel, with the backing of the U.S. has proved to be a mindless thug, trading finesse for brutal force; score another victory for non-state over state terrorism.

Posted by: Chuck B. | August 1, 2006 09:55 AM

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