International Disagreement over Iran reinforces Korean Precedent

Chirac's recent comment that the world could live with a nuclear Iran could convince Iran that its nuclear ambitions will ultimately be accepted by the world.

Against the backdrop of the 'Korean Precedent', recent disagreements between the US and Europe regarding nuclear proliferation risk encouraging Iran to pursue its nuclear project.

The Korean Precedent demonstrates that when a country shows determination to acquire nuclear weapons, ignores diplomatic and economic censure, and ignores military threats, the international community is likely to acquiesce and accept its nuclear capability.

Current US policy towards Iran is aimed at demonstrating that the US is unwilling for yet another nation to join the nuclear club. This policy has been reflected in the recent economic sanctions (supported by both Russia and China - Iranian economic partners), in US naval operations in the Persian Gulf, and in public statements refusing to rule out a potential military strike against Iranian nuclear sites. These actions have helped fuel increased internal Iranian criticism of Ahmadinejad's actions from both Conservatives and Reformists.1

However, division within the international community over how best to respond to Iran2 may signal an erosion of the effectiveness of US policy. The 'Korean Precedent' raises concern that Chirac's comments3 as well as recent calls in Britain and the US for the military option to be taken off the table,4 may indicate the first step of the acceptance of a nuclear Iran. Thus, the 'Korean Precedent' may quiet internal criticism and convince Iran to continue its pursuit for nuclear weapons.

1 Y. Mansharof, MEMRI, 1/24/07; full article .
2 Ian Traynor and Jonathan Steel, Guardian,1/31/2007; full article.
3 Elaine Sciolino, New York Times, 2/3/2007; full article.
4 Mathew Tempest, Guardian, 5/2/2007; full article.