Last week, the unprecedented happened. North Korea announced the suspension of their uranium enrichment and nuclear missile testing programs. This indicates a huge stride not only in engaging one of the world’s notoriously least negotiable nations, but also in regarding the United States’ nuclear containment agenda.
That being said, these huge strides come with equally huge repercussions that we must be aware of if we are to fully understand the magnitude of North Korea’s announcement and the ripple effects multilateral agreements can have.
One of the ripple effects falls on Iran. In light of North Korean compliance, Iran will bear the brunt of the United States and United Nations’ pursuit of nuclear containment policies — more so than before.
Whether the U.S. containment agenda is flawless or not, this agreement with North Korea is still a huge success diplomatically. Thinking in terms of international engagement, the idea is that nations that are diplomatically engaged with one another are less likely to go to war. Dialogue is a forum to diffuse tensions. With North Korea back in the international diplomatic arena — at the cost of compliance with the U.S. and U.N. — then, at least theoretically, the likelihood that conflict will erupt between North Korea and the U.S. and U.N. has decreased drastically.
But this same logic can be applied to explain why tensions with Iran may escalate. The U.S., though engaging diplomatically with Iran, is pushing the nation into isolation. Iran has been less than compliant with U.S. and U.N. nuclear containment initiatives. When compared to North Korea now, Iran’s resistance will look irrational, extreme and suspicious, ostracizing Iran further from unbiased, reciprocal international dialogue and engagement — and even from favorable international opinion.
This is a huge step in the right direction for U.S.-N.K. relations, even hinting at a rare success for multilateral action. We’re seeing dialogue and diplomacy work. But we need to be cognizant of the after-effects of these agreements. The after-effect that concerns Iran must not be taken lightly, especially at a time when the threat of war is no hollow one. Yes, one nuclear threat is almost down, but the other is still up in the air — and could very well be exacerbated.
We’ve already seen one unprecedented event unfold. Hopefully, we’re able to predict the ripple effects of it accurately and understand that a good stride in diplomacy is not always synonymous with a good, global stride overall.
Shaza Elsheshtawy is a junior journalism and politics major. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.