IRAN CLOSELY WATCHES WEST’S RESPONSE TO NORTH KOREAN NUCLEAR THREAT Posted on September 5, 2017September 5, 2017 Printer Friendly N. Korea and Iran: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 3, 2017— The situation playing out now with North Korea is a nightmare scenario of the dangers of nuclear proliferation. Pyongyang's Playbook: Anthony Ruggiero, Weekly Standard, Sept. 2017— The crisis between the United States and North Korea shows no signs of abating. What if There’s No Good Solution for North Korea’s Nukes?: Jonah Goldberg, New York Post, Sept. 1, 2017— The first step in thinking through a problem is to ask whether it’s a problem at all. Problems without solutions, the saying goes, aren’t problems. They’re facts. Between Trump and Kim: Navigating Unpredictable Escalations: Louis René Beres, Israel Defense, Aug. 28, 2017 — In preparing for nuclear crisis bargaining with North Korea, Donald Trump will have little meaningful precedent upon which to rely. On Topic Links The United States’ North Korea Strategy Needs a Reality Check: Derek Burney & Fen Osler Hampson, Globe and Mail, Aug. 29, 2017 The Moral Answer to North Korea Threats: Take Them Out!: Ralph Peters, New York Post, Sept. 4, 2017 Iran’s New Defense Minister Is Committed to Iran’s Missile Program and the Export of the Revolution: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, BESA, Aug. 30, 2017 How to Get Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal: John R. Bolton, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 28, 2017 N. KOREA AND IRAN Editorial Jerusalem Post, Sept. 3, 2017 The situation playing out now with North Korea is a nightmare scenario of the dangers of nuclear proliferation. It offers a partial preview of the sorts of dangers the world would face if Iran ever obtained nuclear weapon capability. And it vindicates the use of preemptive military strikes to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of autocratic regimes, like the one that was launched – according to foreign news sources – by Israel a decade ago, on September 6, 2007. On Sunday, North Korea, a country run by a madman, conducted its biggest nuclear test to date, setting off an explosion that Pyongyang said was caused by the detonation of an advanced hydrogen bomb. The tremor that resulted was said to be 10 times more powerful than the tremor picked up after the last test a year ago. Since 2006 North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests. US President Donald Trump immediate reaction was registered, as is his custom, on his personal Twitter account. “North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.” And, in a more strident message, Trump wrote: “South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!” French President Emmanuel Macron urged the UN Security Council to react quickly and decisively. “The international community must treat this new provocation with the utmost firmness, in order to bring North Korea to come back unconditionally to the path of dialogue and to proceed to the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its nuclear and ballistic program,” he said. China, Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency also weighed in. But what can any of them do? No one wants to play chicken with Kim Jong Un and risk a nuclear Armageddon. Iran’s mullahs, meanwhile, are carefully monitoring the developments. True, North Korea and Iran are radically different culturally. Iran is governed by religious fanatics who look to usher in a messianic age ruled by Shi’ites. North Korea, in contrast, is run by a secular tyrant. However, North Korea offers Iran a test case in the wonders of obtaining nuclear weapons. And it offers the world a sharp rebuke for past inaction and a foreboding warning for the future. A small but aggressive nation with limited economic and military means has succeeded in leveraging its power to intimidate while remaining utterly immune to the influence of the international community – all accomplished by simply obtaining nuclear weapons. Tehran has an opportunity to watch how the international community reacts – or rather fails to react – when Pyongyang fires a missile over Japan, as it did in August, or when it detonates a hydrogen bomb, as it did Sunday. Trump might tweet, Macron might threaten, but the real danger of sparking a nuclear war will have a chilling effect on rational decision-making with regard to using military options to stop Pyongyang. The Islamic Republic’s leadership did not need Sunday’s hydrogen bomb test to become convinced of the merits of obtaining an atomic bomb. As a nation of Shi’ites surrounded by a Sunni majority, Tehran’s motivation from the outset in obtaining nuclear weapons was first and foremost an insurance policy against being bullying around. Libya’s lesson was not missed by the Iranians. The US’s toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime under the pretext that he had weapons of mass destruction scared Muammar Gaddafi into disarming his country from nuclear weapons. Less than a decade later he was overthrown. We do not want to think about what would have happened if Syria had succeeded, with North Korea’s help, in obtaining nuclear weapons instead of reportedly being stopped by a preemptive attack. President Bashar Assad had no qualms about using chemical weapons against his own people. We don’t know what he would have done had he obtained nuclear weapons. There is a lesson to be learned from North Korea by the international community as well. Nothing came of the more than two years of negotiations with Pyongyang. No country stopped North Korea. The West ultimately accepted a North Korea with nuclear weapons capability. The same mistake must not be made again with Iran. Contents PYONGYANG'S PLAYBOOK Anthony Ruggiero Weekly Standard, Sept. 2017 The crisis between the United States and North Korea shows no signs of abating. Indeed, Pyongyang escalated its provocations last week, firing a missile over Japan on August 29. Critics of the president cite his brash approach to Pyongyang as a factor behind North Korea’s belligerency. Some also link Trump’s tough talk about the Iran nuclear deal. Why, they ask, would North Korea want to cooperate with a White House that insists on revisiting a nuclear deal the United States struck with Iran just two years ago? What they fail to note is the Kim regime has already violated two nuclear deals with the United States. North Korea, in fact, authored the playbook now being used by Iran to fleece the United States and our allies. And if the United States fails to neutralize the North Korean threat, Iran will notice how the United States buckles in the face of nuclear pressure. Iran has already learned a number of damaging lessons from North Korea. First, cheating on nuclear deals is permitted. North Korea cheated twice, and we kept coming back for more. President Bill Clinton announced the 1994 Agreed Framework as a deal that would “freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program,” but Pyongyang violated the agreement when it started a covert uranium enrichment program. Washington tried another nuclear deal with the Kim regime, negotiating the 2005 Joint Statement, but the Kim regime built a nuclear reactor in Syria during the negotiations. The reactor was eventually destroyed by Israel in 2007. Normally that would have ended negotiations, proving that North Korea was not a serious interlocutor. Instead, the Kim regime was rewarded for its nuclear proliferation when the Bush administration removed North Korea from the state sponsors of terrorism list in 2008. Iran’s cheating has focused on testing the will of the United States and its partners to hold Tehran to the negotiated limits in the 2015 nuclear deal. During the Obama administration, Tehran twice exceeded the cap on heavy water, and rather than punishing Iran, Washington and Moscow purchased the excess material from Iran. Iran is operating advanced centrifuges in excess of the limit of 10 it agreed to in the deal. And reports suggest the United Kingdom blocked an attempt by Iran to secretly purchase additional natural uranium. German intelligence reports showed that Iran attempted procurement of nuclear-related items, likely in violation of the agreement. Second, limited nuclear deals can be exploited. The Agreed Framework and Joint Statement merely froze the North Korean nuclear programs (what was known of them), and in both instances Pyongyang was not required to dismantle its programs upfront. The result left North Korea with the infrastructure to produce fissile material (plutonium and highly enriched uranium) for the nuclear weapons that now threaten America’s allies and the U.S. homeland. Tehran adopted this very strategy when it negotiated a nuclear deal that allows it to keep its uranium enrichment program and continue research on advanced centrifuges. Iran can thus comply with the deal and emerge about a decade later with a production-scale enrichment facility and near-zero breakout time to develop nuclear weapons. Third, you can also push the envelope on military and non-nuclear issues. North Korea tested a space launch vehicle (SLV) only four years after negotiating the 1994 Agreed Framework. Pyongyang has tested additional SLVs five times since 1998, placing satellites in orbit in 2012 and 2016. These SLVs provided key advancements Pyongyang used to improve intercontinental ballistic missiles that the Kim regime can use to deliver a nuclear weapon to the United States. North Korea has also tested the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile, which can reach Guam, at least five times this year, with a successful test in mid-May and again last week. The international community’s failure to respond meaningfully is viewed by North Korea as tacit approval. Since the 2015 nuclear deal was signed, Tehran has reportedly conducted two SLV launches. It has launched as many as 14 ballistic missiles, many of which are “nuclear capable,” in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which codified the nuclear deal. Iran has undoubtedly noticed the U.N.’s lack of a firm response. The number of Iranian violations detailed by U.N. Secretary General António Guterres in a recent report is stunning. Two Iranian attempts to procure missile components, aircraft parts, and anti-tank missile components from Ukraine were thwarted over a period of just six months. How many others have gotten through? Iran also continues its shipment of arms to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, in violation of two Security Council resolutions. Finally, insist that your military sites are off-limits. The first nuclear crisis in the mid-1990s started in part when North Korea refused a request by the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect a waste facility that Pyongyang said was a military site unrelated to its nuclear program. The Kim regime’s refusal set off a crisis that almost ended in a military conflict between the United States and North Korea. The crisis was resolved when the Clinton administration negotiated the ill-fated Agreed Framework. Tehran has learned from the North Korean experience to insist that military facilities are off-limits and hope the issue fades away. Before the 2015 nuclear deal was completed, Iran’s supreme leader declared “inspection of our military sites is out of the question and is one of our red lines.” Iran’s foreign minister boasted that he had maintained the red line in negotiations. Tehran has allowed only a cursory inspection of the Parchin military site where undeclared uranium particles were discovered, and the regime continues to deny more intrusive inspections. While Iran has learned many lessons from North Korea, Washington should have learned a few, too. The most significant is that flawed, limited nuclear deals do not solve the strategic issues. The Trump administration must internalize this lesson if it is to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, which could in turn set off an arms race in the Middle East. Similarly, with North Korea, the president should insist on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The “echo chamber” supporting the 2015 Iran nuclear deal wants President Trump to believe that North Korea’s aggressive nuclear weapons and missile programs somehow demonstrate the need for Washington to remain committed to the agreement. They have it exactly wrong. Pyongyang’s path highlights how a limited nuclear deal can lead to a nuclear threat to the U.S. homeland. Another such threat, this time from Iran, could be only a matter of time. Contents WHAT IF THERE’S NO GOOD SOLUTION FOR NORTH KOREA’S NUKES? Jonah Goldberg New York Post, Sept. 1, 2017 The first step in thinking through a problem is to ask whether it’s a problem at all. Problems without solutions, the saying goes, aren’t problems. They’re facts. Some people argue that a nuclear-armed North Korea is less of a problem and more of a fact. Murderous doughboy Kim Jong Un will never give up his nuclear toys. And let’s face it: He would be stupid to. Perhaps the one true lesson of the last half-century of geopolitics is that the only way ambitious criminal regimes can protect themselves from outside threats is to have a nuclear deterrent. That was probably one of the last thoughts to go through Muammar Gadhafi’s mind before the Libyan dictator was killed by a U.N.-backed mob. Advocates of more “strategic patience” argue that we should just accept a nuclear-armed North Korea and rely on the time-tested policy of nuclear deterrence. It’s not a bad argument, but it has problems. Nuclear weapons have uses other than simply laying waste to cities. The chief one, as I already mentioned, is they take regime change off the table forever. Hence North Korea’s primary demand: permanent recognition of the illegitimate regime’s legitimacy. Nukes also provide all manner of maneuvering room. For instance, Iran, another country with a horrible government, wants a nuclear arsenal very badly. While the Israelis are worried — for understandable reasons — that the Iranians might one day use it against Israel, that’s not the only reason it would be bad for Iran to have the bomb. Iran wants to be a regional hegemon able to meddle far beyond its own borders. Having nukes makes that much easier because it raises the stakes of any military confrontation. North Korea, the so-called Hermit Kingdom, does not have any territorial ambitions, nor is it much interested in interacting with the rest of the world. The regime’s existence depends on keeping the population ignorant of just how terrible they have it compared with nearly every other country in the world. But the North Korean regime is best understood as a monarchy that operates a criminal enterprise. It makes much of its money through counterfeiting, sex and drug trafficking, and numerous other schemes. Among its biggest profit centers is extortion from the “international community.” For 25 years it has been taking bribes to delay its nuclear program, as President Trump rightly noted on Twitter recently. And, obviously, the regime lied every time. North Korea has also exported nuclear and missile technology to rogue nations such as Iran and Syria. Who really thinks that Kim will give up his business model? If it were easy, the wisest course of policy would be to decapitate the North Korean regime. But that wouldn’t be easy at all. A conventional war would be over relatively quickly — so long as China stayed out of it — but not quickly enough to prevent the destruction of South Korea’s capital and the deaths of millions of people, including thousands of Americans. Another widely discussed solution would be to induce China to overthrow the regime and install a puppet government. China could probably do it relatively easily. It surely has lots of North Korean generals on the payroll already. But there are problems with this, too. China would demand a high price: total removal of American forces in South Korea and a tacit acknowledgement that China is the uncontested hegemon of the region. Such a “grand bargain would effectively transfer America’s dominance to China,” Hoover Institution scholar Michael Auslin writes in the Los Angeles Times. “No matter how the White House spun such a deal, world leaders would infer that the U.S. had gone hat in hand to China.” The impact on South Korean politics, never mind Japan’s, would be tumultuous at best. So what to do? Well, the first thing is to recognize that there are no good solutions. But perhaps the least bad option would be to openly declare that America already considers the North Korean regime to be China’s puppet, and that North Korean misdeeds are really Chinese misdeeds. That would come at a price, too. But it would incentivize China either to rein in the North Korean regime or, eventually, get rid of it. Contents BETWEEN TRUMP AND KIM: NAVIGATING UNPREDICTABLE ESCALATIONS Louis René Beres Israel Defense, Aug. 28, 2017 In preparing for nuclear crisis bargaining with North Korea, Donald Trump will have little meaningful precedent upon which to rely. When examined together with this president's plainly limited capacity to succeed in any such complex negotiations, the United States has much to consider. In essence, as Mr. Trump is apt to hand over any moment-by-moment crisis deliberations to his most senior military deputies, it could quickly fall upon "the generals" for rescue. They too, however, would be guided by largely visceral or "seat-of-the-pants" bargaining calculations. This is not a per se criticism of the generals by any means, but merely an acknowledgment (1) that scientific probabilities must always be based upon the determinable frequency of pertinent past events; and (2) that there have been no pertinent past events. Whatever ultimately unravels between Washington and Pyongyang, therefore, these unique ventures in competitive risk-taking will be navigated in uncharted waters. Here, too, the experiential uniqueness would be mutual. But such mutuality would not necessarily prove in the best interests of the United States. This is because an overly confident Kim Jung-un and/or Donald Trump could quickly generate a more-or-less uncontrollable cycle of move and counter-move, one leading inexorably toward mutual catastrophe. Mr. Trump and his counselors ought never forget that this sort of rapid cycle deterioration could be rendered even more precarious as a result of still unforeseen interactions between one side's fully executed moves, and the other's. In technical terms, such perilous interactions would be known formally as "synergies." Significantly, as there are no extant experts on nuclear war – not in the United States, not in North Korea, not in Israel, not anywhere on this beleaguered earth – there could even emerge a hideously complex "synergy of synergies." This conspicuously indecipherable sort of multilayered and overlapping intersections is what the computer scientists are apt to call "cascades." All things considered, Mr. Trump should proceed in any impending North Korean crisis with exquisite prudence and abundant caution, recalling at absolutely every point the inherently limited body of available strategic thought. At the same time, he will need to bear in mind that while nuclear war avoidance is obviously most important, maintaining "escalation dominance" could also be thoroughly central to American national security. Success will require an almost unimaginably meticulous "balance," a delicate level of analytic equilibrium that has rarely been witnessed or perhaps even expected. President Trump's strategic plan for North Korea ought never to be constructed ex nihilo – out of nothing. Yet it must, by definition, still be the result of assorted deductions or extrapolations from various pre-nuclear forms of conflict management. For these deductions and extrapolations to be up to the utterly herculean intellectual task at hand, they must accurately represent the determined outcome of expressly dialectical modes of military reasoning. Plato, in the middle dialogues, describes the dialectician as the one who knows best how to ask and then answer sequential questions. Going forward, US strategists and negotiators must use far more than "common sense." They must learn to become capable dialecticians. In brief, this certifiably ancient method of seeking answers by correct reasoning remains best suited for the North Korean crisis now lying ahead. There is no elaborate computer program or algorithm that can possibly substitute for such indispensable reasoning. Still sorely needed to rescue the United States from certain corollary nuclear hazards are exceptionally imaginative human beings, most notably those thinkers who have been nurtured by impressively broad sectors of knowledge and learning, and not just by the latest in vogue statistical techniques or technologies. In all expectedly nuanced deliberations with the North Koreans, America might do far better to rely, at least in part, on talented diplomats, poets, philosophers and mathematicians than exclusively career soldiers. To be sure, in the grievously measureless history of warfare, the military professional has occasionally made a few consequential mistakes. Looking ahead, we would be demanding that these trained strategists avoid major future errors in planning an altogether unique form of warfare, one for which their training has been largely extraneous, and with which they could literally have had no tangible acquaintance. For the United States, the North Korea crisis, whether protracted or episodic, will immediately be one of "mind over mind," and not just "fire and fury." During this daunting intellectual struggle, each side, as long as it remains recognizably rational, will be seeking "escalation dominance" without simultaneously endangering its own national survival. Significantly, if the American side should sometime calculate that its North Korean counterpart is not fully rational, the apparent incentives to undertake far-reaching military preemptions could then become overwhelming… [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.] Contents On Topic Links The United States’ North Korea Strategy Needs a Reality Check: Derek Burney & Fen Osler Hampson, Globe and Mail, Aug. 29, 2017—Kim Jong-un has once again called U.S. President Donald Trump's bluff, launching a ballistic missile across northern Japan on a flight exceeding 2,700 kilometres and reaching an altitude of 550 km. The Moral Answer to North Korea Threats: Take Them Out!: Ralph Peters, New York Post, Sept. 4, 2017—Better a million dead North Koreans than a thousand dead Americans. The fundamental reason our government exists is to protect our people and our territory. Everything else is a grace note. And the words we never should hear in regard to North Korea’s nuclear threats are “We should’ve done something.” Iran’s New Defense Minister Is Committed to Iran’s Missile Program and the Export of the Revolution: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, BESA, Aug. 30, 2017—The new Iranian defense minister, Brigadier General Amir Hatami, reemphasized immediately upon taking office on August 20, 2017 – and in honor of National Defense Industry Day – the Defense Ministry’s commitment to strongly support the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), its commander Qasem Soleimani, and the “resistance front.” How to Get Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal: John R. Bolton, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 28, 2017—Although candidate Donald Trump repeatedly criticized Barack Obama's Iran nuclear agreement, his administration has twice decided to remain in the deal. It so certified to Congress, most recently in July, as required by law. Before the second certification, Trump asked repeatedly for alternatives to acquiescing yet again in a policy he clearly abhorred.