Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Neither Iran, North Korea blinking

VIENNA, Austria — Both regimes are suspected of running covert nuclear-weapons programs. Both are increasingly defiant, accusing Western envoys of meddling in what they insist is their right to develop peaceful nuclear technology.

By refusing to blink or budge, Iran and North Korea have the international community scrambling to cool and contain two high-stakes cases of nuclear brinksmanship — one in the Middle East, the other on the Korean peninsula.

"Clearly, these issues are reaching critical stages at the same time," said Terence Taylor, an expert on weapons of mass destruction who runs the Washington office of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "You're seeing the limits of treaties and diplomatic activities."

Despite the similarities between the two cases, the West is approaching them differently — asking Iran to merely limit its nuclear activities in exchange for economic incentives, while insisting that North Korea drop even its civilian nuclear-power program.

Developing countries on the IAEA board, led by South Africa, Brazil and Argentina, fear the attempt to force Iran to give up sensitive nuclear activities could one day be used against their own nuclear programs — and therefore object to it.

No comments: