According to official North Korean news reports, a top aide to supreme leader Kim Jong-Un is on a ten day trip to meet with Iranian leaders in Tehran, along with officials from North Korea’s army, navy and air force.
Levitt believes, “Iran is not a closed economy that is entirely blocked off from the rest of the world, while North Korea largely is,” meaning that Tehran has a lot to lose from breaking the 2015 nuclear deal that eased sanctions on the country, which allows deals such as the one to build cars in Iran that was made by French automaker Renault earlier this week, or the one French energy giant Total recently made with the Iran.”
Meanwhile, it is estimated that more than 90 percent of all trade conducted by North Korea goes through China. Levitt added, “when one situation goes wrong it is inevitable that you think about the other.” He believes that President Donald Trump’s administration must focus its attention on North Korea.
Still, Ed Walker, a former representative for the Clinton administration in Egypt, disagreed, saying, “As soon as you start distracting U.S. efforts to contain Iran, that frees up space for Iran to move forward with its nuclear program.” Walker also said that if the Trump administration can’t keep both issues in-check at the same time, “they should quit and go home.” Walker added, “President Trump has put himself at a terrible disadvantage by leaving key posts at the State Department unfilled and by not hiring qualified staff fast enough.”
Michael O’Hanlon, who specializes in U.S. defense strategy and the use of military force at the Brookings Institution, warned in an interview last week, that Iran is using what’s happening on the Korean Peninsula as a test. He asked, “What lessons will Iran draw if North Korea gets away with not only getting a bomb, but building up continuously with China and Russia tolerating it?”