Iran deal model for DPRK?

Cape Times - - OPINION -

THE in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity has been strug­gling to re­spond to the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea’s steadily ex­pand­ing nu­clear pro­gramme. US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has os­cil­lated be­tween mas­sive threats to dev­as­tate the DPRK and hold­ing out the prospect of talks.

On Mon­day, the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil unan­i­mously adopted a res­o­lu­tion to im­pose fresh sanc­tions on the DPRK for vi­o­lat­ing the pre­vi­ous Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions by con­duct­ing its sixth and strong­est nu­clear test on Septem­ber 3.

Why does the DPRK is­sue mat­ter to the DPRK? Sim­ply be­cause any con­flict in north-east Asia could have huge geopo­lit­i­cal con­se­quences and an im­me­di­ate im­pact on global sup­ply chains.

Now Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel has said the Iran deal could be a pos­si­ble model to re­solve the DPRK is­sue. The Iran model refers to the EU-led ne­go­ti­a­tions to curb Iran’s nu­clear pro­gramme in re­turn for the grad­ual lift­ing of sanc­tions.

So far the deal has worked well, although there are voices in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion call­ing for it to be aban­doned.

There are of course sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences be­tween Iran and the DPRK.

The EU is also a more plau­si­ble leader of ne­go­ti­a­tions than the US or China. It has a pol­icy of “crit­i­cal en­gage­ment” with the DPRK which com­bines pres­sure with sanc­tions and keep­ing di­a­logue chan­nels open.

It does of course take two to tango and so far there is lit­tle sign of the DPRK be­ing will­ing to take to the dance floor.

So Py­ongyang might be will­ing to come to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble only af­ter it is con­vinced it has a cred­i­ble de­ter­rent against at­tacks.

No one can say when this mo­ment will come. But to make it pos­si­ble sooner rather than later, Bei­jing and Brus­sels have to main­tain pres­sure on Py­ongyang, as well as en­sure Wash­ing­ton does not walk away from the Iran deal.

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