News / Asia

North Korean Nuclear Test Turns Spotlight on Iran

Guita AryanJeff Seldin
North Korea’s nuclear test this week is also putting the spotlight on Iran, which has been moving forward on its nuclear program despite Western and U.S. opposition. 

There were celebrations in North Korea, where the country's latest nuclear test is being publicly hailed.

But as worldwide condemnation pours in, there is also the recognition that the test goes beyond the saber-rattling of Pyongyang.

"This is about proliferation and this is also about Iran," noted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. "Because they're linked."

Experts say tough talk alone is unlikely to resonate in Iran, so what Tehran does next may very well depend on how the world backs up similar talk to North Korea.

“If you want to prevent Iran from getting the bomb you have to take a hard line against North Korea,” stated Raymond Tanter, former U.S. National Security Council member. He says that so far, Western resolve has not been strong enough.

“If you allow North Korea to get away with miniaturizing [a nuclear bomb], with three nuclear tests, with any number of missile tests, that signals to Iran that a nuclear-armed North Korea can get away with murder and therefore Iran will not be deterred from getting the bomb,” Tanter added.

There are indications Iran and North Korea are helping each other, having signed a deal late last year to cooperate on a variety of scientific endeavors.  

That type of collaboration has been a concern in Washington for years. And some analysts now warn it is clear Iran has been sharing its expertise on uranium enrichment in exchange for Pyongyang's superior missile technology.

That strategy of cooperation is not without wide-ranging risks.
"In Iran, what we’re seeing is that their nuclear facilities can be identified, they can be theoretically attacked in a limited operation,” noted Brookings Institution scholar Michael O'Hanlon.

Iran has repeatedly denied its nuclear program is for anything other than civilian purposes.   

At his State of the Union address, U.S. President Barack Obama, warned that Tehran will only be allowed to push so far. "We will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon," he said.

How that will be done may depend on the outcome of talks expected later this month between world powers and Iran.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

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Comment Sorting
by: Haron from: Afghanistan
February 17, 2013 8:06 AM
instead of focusing on Iran or North Korea it's good to think about globe financial crises. only if West focusing on Iran and North Korea then they must focus on Israel not on these two countries. otherwise the result could be disarranging of this dusty world and can be call it as a Crusade.

by: NVO from: USA
February 17, 2013 7:43 AM
IDIOTIC regime, FOOLISH people for staying in that country. EXODUS!!!

by: kanaikaal irumporai
February 15, 2013 7:54 PM
"Allowing someone to getaway with murder" is what the US and its allies do from time to time making generous gestures to regime that perpetrate Genocides, both actual and structural. The package includes unique opportunities such as the much needed time (the recipient needs erase the evidence and to muster support), for the accused who is allowed to do the investigation, trial and deliver the final judgement about ones own acts. Years pass by, the process goes on, red-carpet welcomes flow, while similar regimes praise the accused and try to emulate the same. If Genocidal actors like Sri Lanka are given green light like this, then what would deter others like the North-Korean and the Mullahs in Tehran?

by: Jude from: Vancouver
February 14, 2013 5:38 PM
How crazy is this...? Two previous S.Korea presidents, Kim and Rho supported North Korea under the title 'humanity support' for 10 years and what happened now? If they purely wanted to support people, suffering from starvation, they should've watched if it goes to poor, but they didn't. Well, that already happened and unseemingly Korean government will do that again unless its left side gets power. Most crucially, China.. Stop supporting North Korea! You guys always say 'we against N.Korea making nuclear' but support a lot behind. If you become a democracy and friend of the world, you need no stupid shield(N.Korea)! Don't give any stupid reason to Japan, public enemy, to have an army and nuclear weapon.

by: Anonymous
February 14, 2013 4:57 PM
If North Korea missile technology is superior to Iran as you claimed in your report, how come they failed sending a missile into space unlike Iran? Yes did that later but only after Iranians helped them as western media reported.

by: Sensi
February 14, 2013 4:40 PM
What a garbage, all complete with the usual neo-con AIPAC mouthpiece propaganda of Mr Tanter who when he is not trying to expunge student journalists critical of Israel, not lobbying to remove the MEK from the US terrorist list and use them to attack Iran, is just lobbying for an US attack of Iran since a good decade, etc: what a nice bunch of objective people we have here...

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