The Wrong Lessons From North Korea

Avoiding a Nuclear Iran

Models of a North Korean Scud-B missile at the Korean War Memorial Museum in Seoul, April 2009. Jo Yong-Hak / Courtesy Reuters

The case of North Korea clearly exposes the dangers of the United States seeking a nuclear agreement with a state that has no intention of abiding by one. The 1994 U.S.-North Korean Agreed Framework, which called on North Korea to freeze the operation and construction of nuclear reactors, collapsed within a decade of its signing. In 2006, North Korea conducted its first nuclear test, and today it is a full-fledged nuclear power. The United States’ experience with North Korea should make it wary of similar nuclear negotiations, especially with Iran.

In the past month, however, some have argued the opposite: that the United States’ experience with North Korea should lead it to make even greater concessions to Iran, and to continue making such concessions even after an accord is signed.

According to this line of thinking, the United States did not do enough to ensure the success of the Agreed

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