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North Korea & Iran - Connect The Dots

North Korea's Torpedoing Of South Korean Ship Illustrates What To Expect From A Nuclear Armed Iran

North Korea Case Indicates How Problematic It Is To Cope With Nuclear Tyranny

Hezbollah Chief Nasrallah Copies North Korea By Threatening To Sink Ships Sailing For Israel

Iranian missiles (photo: MEHR)

North Korea's nuclear weapons capability enables that rogue state to literally 'get away with murder' - that is one lesson to be drawn from the current crisis. There are others that also reflect on Iran's current drive to get the bomb. Proof of North Korean startling aggression against South Korea coincides with Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's upcoming visit to France, Canada and the U.S. IsraCast is of the view that the case of nuclear North Korea 'unacceptable' killing of forty-six South Korean sailors serves as a preview of what to expect from Iran, if she also acquires nuclear weapons. Netanyahu will likely call on his hosts to take more effective action against Iran before time runs out and to connect the dots between the latest North Korean atrocity and the looming Iranian threat.

 North Korea's deadly torpedo attack on a South Korean naval vessel has ramifications far beyond the troubled Korean peninsula. The nuclear weapons in the hands of North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-il has enabled him to repeatedly provoke his neighbors with impunity. Not only South Korea but even her ally the U.S. will back way from a military response, in order to avert the risk of a nuclear war. In this particular case, although the North Korean provocation was no less than a casus belli, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acted swiftly to ensure that Seoul would comply with a measured but non-military response. Military retaliation would be out of the question, not that the South Korean government would risk such a course of action. But North Korea has the bomb and therefore she literally 'gets away with murder', in this case the killing of forty-six South Korean sailors. Experts on North Korea have a tough time trying to explain Kim Jong-il's statecraft that amounts to unbridled state terrorism. Most seem to say that he seeks to assert his role and somehow extend control over a reunited Korea. Although his actions may appear to border on political insanity, Kim Jong-il is not thought to harbor grandiose ideas of dominating a regional empire considering that such giants as China and Japan are his neighbors.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad

Now just imagine the nightmare if Iran, that is bent on imposing her hegemony over the Middle East and the Muslim world, also acquires a nuclear arsenal. Even without the bomb, the fanatical Muslim regime in Tehran has exhibited few compunctions about pushing its weight around. There are many such examples that include challenging the U.S. in Iraq, abducting British sailors on the high seas, incarcerating wayward American hikers, provoking U.S. naval vessels in the Gulf and last but not least, threatening 'to wipe Israel off the map'. In addition, Iran has been expanding her regional reach by building advance bases of Hezbollah militia in south Lebanon within missile range of Israel. Then, via Syria, Iran has now armed Hezbollah with an arsenal of some 45,000 missiles, which U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates contends is far more than most sovereign states possess. To Israel's south, Iran has also armed and trained Hamas fighters in Gaza. Again, even without the bomb, Iran has even dared to undermine the Egyptian regime of President Hosni Mubarak by organizing a subversive underground. Egypt not only condemned Iran but also cracked down on the Iranian - supported Hamas government of Gaza by building an underground barrier to stem the smuggling of weapons from Sinai into Gaza. Note the comments of Egypt's intelligence chief, General Omar Suleiman that speak volumes about the shifting allegiances in the Middle East out of fear of a nuclear Iran. In Tel Aviv, President Mubarak's trusted envoy described in glowing terms to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, how happy he was to again visit his 'friends' in Israel and to continue the joint effort for peace and prosperity to the region. These days, voices in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states also rail against what they view as Iran's drive for political and religious domination of the region. Syria and non-Arab Turkey are the only countries in Iran's corner.

President Ahmadenijad makes no bones about Iran's regional aspirations to dominate the Middle East and the entire Muslim world. Just imagine how Iran would be further emboldened if she did acquire nuclear weapons in the future. Today North Korea has again illustrated how problematic it is to cope with a nuclear tyranny. Moreover, the 'success' of North Korea's terror attack at sea has fired the imagination of Hezbollah's chief Sheik Nasrallah. Within days of the massive loss of South Korean sailors, Nasrallah took a page out of Kim Jong-il's book, by threatening to sink ships sailing for Israel in any new war.

Kim Jong-il and Vladimir Putin (photo: www.kremlin.ru)

Obviously, these factors must be considered by Israeli decision-makers. But there is another side to the nuclear debate. It goes like this: a nuclear Iran would not want to risk a nuclear exchange with the Jewish state, if foreign reports are right about Israel possessing a nuclear capability. The idea is that MAD, mutually assured destruction theory, would take over in Tehran and Jerusalem, as it did between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. However, the eminent Arabist, Professor Bernard Lewis has cautioned against such a conclusion. Lewis argues there was always a rational Soviet leadership ruling from the Kremlin that put Mother Russia's best interests before everything else, and so a nuclear war was averted. In Lewis's view, this cannot be said about President Ahmadenijad and the fanatic dictatorship that is driven by radical Islam and rules Iran with an iron fist.

The Iranian Missile Range

There is another aspect to be considered. Is it conceivable that a nuclear Iran would suddenly change course and start restraining Hezbollah and Hamas in their attacks on Israel? Or on the contrary, would Hezbollah and Hamas escalate their provocations, confident their nuclear patron would serve to deter Israel? And would Israel acquiesce, as South Korea apparently has at America's behest, in the murder of forty-six of her sailors by a Hezbollah assault at sea? Highly unlikely. In this case, the situation could swiftly spiral out of control, as has not been the case on the Korean peninsula. These are not only crucial considerations for Israel, but countries such as China and Russia should also take a hard look at whether guaranteeing friendly ties with a major oil supplier or making a 'fast rubble', are worth risking a nuclear Iran that could be far more dangerous for all parties than is North Korea.

David Essing

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