Whether North Korea possesses nuclear weapons or simply lusts after them, one cannot help noting that the United States is adopting a very different approach to that of Iran. The latter denies development of nuclear weapons, while North Korea blatantly advertises it, true or not. Iran is a theocratic state with a vague element of democracy within its ruling party. North Korea is ruled by a tyrannical sociopath with not even the faintest hint or pretension of democracy.
Yet, in the latter case, the US walks and talks ever so softly threatening “isolation” and/or “sanctions” while refusing bilateral discussions to resolve the dispute. Iran, on the other hand, is subjected to thinly veiled threats of military action either by the United States or Israel.
Why is this?
Could it be that Iran is considered a softer target with only 500.000 Iranians under arms and 300.000 reservists as opposed to the 1.2 million North Korean standing army plus another 7 million in reserve units?
Could it be that Iran is considered a greater threat to American hegemony and oil supplies in the Middle East?
Perhaps it is the fear of a resurgent Persia. The Shia are poised to assume political control of Iraq, or at the very least to form an independent Shia state on the border of neighbouring Shiite Iran. An additional and oil rich Iraqi Shia state closely allied with next door Iran would create a substantial power base for the heretofore relatively weak minority Shia population in the Islamic world. This would change not only the religious complexion and alter the balance of power of Islam; in a region historically dominated by the Sunni.
Is it that Iran is considered a threat to Israel, America’s client state in the Middle East, whereas, North Korea neither threatens oil supply nor America’s regional client state, Taiwan?
It is in China’s interest to use North Korea both to keep the US off balance in the region, yet not allow North Korea to undertake military action against any of its neighbours, including South Korea. The Chinese dislike disharmony and turbulence.
Should North Korea step out of line, China could squash it, and NK knows this. As it is now, NK is a card China can play in the Taiwan dispute should it be necessary. In return for US tacit support for HongKongisation of Taiwan, China would, I am sure, be happy to sacrifice North Korea. What China should not allow on its border is a North Korea which would become an American client state. Should North Korea fall, China would wisely demand a demilitarisation of the entire Korean peninsula.
The US with its history of failure in diplomacy in Asia, would be best advised to allow China to be its proxy negotiator – for a price, of course.