Iranian Nuclear Talks Reach Agreement: Could They Be a Prelude to North Korean Nuclear Talks?

On April 2, six countries, including the USA, reached an agreement that will halt Iranian nuclear development. Iran will stop producing nuclear materials needed for nuclear weapons, and the United Nations Security Council, just as the USA, will lift the economic sanctions against Iran, participants reported. The agreement states that Iran will reduce the number of its centrifuges for uranium enrichment by two-thirds in the next 10 years, it will build no further facilities for uranium enrichment for the next 15 years, and it will no longer import fissionable materials. Iran’s existing heavy-water reactors will be converted into light-water reactors, which make it difficult to produce weapons-grade plutonium, and the time needed to actually build a nuclear weapon will be increased from an original two to three months to one year. In return, the U.S. will lift the economic sanctions as soon as the final stages of the agreement wrap up on July 30.

Finally, after 35 long years of animosity that followed the embassy hostage situation in 1979, and 13 years after the Iranian nuclear program surfaced in 2002, the Iranian nuclear problem has reached a solution, along with the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Iran. As President Obama puts it aptly, this agreement, where Iran is forbidden from “weaponizing” its nuclear technology, but allowed to use it peacefully under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is “historic.” It was a rather dire situation, in which Iran’s nuclear programs could have served as a catalyst for nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, and hence the peace of the entire world, not only the region, was under threat. It wouldn’t be unfair to say this was a step toward peace in that it dispelled such a threat.

However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel criticized the deal, calling it a “historical mistake,” since the deal “justified the Iranian nuclear program whose goal is to manufacture nuclear bombs.”* Frankly, Israel, the nation that possesses nuclear weapons without international approval, does not have any right to say such thing. Should an Arab country be tempted to have nuclear weapons, it would be because of Israel’s own nuclear weapons. Israel must learn that it is better to solve conflict and struggle through diplomacy rather than militaristic confrontations.

President Obama completed the diplomatic missions before him, the task he gave himself, by creating an opportunity to normalize relations with Iran shortly after doing so with Cuba, the longtime U.S. enemy. This is a feat that would have been impossible to reach without President Obama’s flexible diplomatic policies, in which being allied with the enemy is not impossible. Iran, however, is not the last. There is North Korea, and President Obama still considers this country a not-yet-reconciled enemy. Some in the U.S. believe it is impossible to follow the precedent of Iran with North Korea because North Korea underwent nuclear testing three times and remains in possession of nuclear weapons. It is evident that North Korea developed its nuclear weapons as a means of assuring the survival of its system, which is different from Iran’s, which has claimed that its system is for the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

Even still, North Korea should not be the exception. The North Korean nuclear issue is far more dangerous than the Iranian one, and therefore, it is a more pressing matter. It is not something to give up on because it looks difficult. The higher the risk, the greater is the necessity of conversation and negotiation. I hope Obama’s diplomacy will make its way to North Korea as well.

*Editor’s note: Accurately translated, this quote could not be verified.

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