While Iran’s mullahs react with satisfaction to the failure of the second recent summit held in Hanoi between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, the current international reality says that this is not in the Iranian regime’s interest at all.
President Trump faced difficulties in achieving progress in the North Korean issue, which could lead him to rethink Iran. He may need to examine the alternatives available and study the military option with interest for many reasons.
Many things indicate that the Iranian regime was satisfied with the failure. The Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that “President Trump should’ve now realized that pageantries, photo-ops and flip-flops don’t make for serious diplomacy,” in a clear reference to North Korean leader’s rejection of the US nuclear disarmament demand.
Commenting on the Hanoi summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, Zarif said that Iranians have stood up for ten years and have spent thousands of hours negotiating for every word of the nuclear agreement in its 150 pages and that nothing will be better than the accord.
He pointed out that such agreements do not take place in a transitional meeting, but require marathon negotiations, looking to demonstrate the importance of the nuclear agreement signed between Iran and the P5+1 group.
Some analysts believe that the mullahs’ regime seems to be the biggest winner from the failed Hanoi summit. The failure confirms the validity of Iran’s position of rejecting the complete abandonment of nuclear weapons and the missile program.
They argue that the “step by step” strategy is the best way to engage in such complex crises. All the measures taken by the Iranian regime must be matched by a step from the international community. This view makes sense in terms of negotiating experience.
But what happened in the nuclear agreement with Iran is that the Iranian negotiators, known for their patience and enormous capacity for manoeuvre and a culture of negotiation deceit, managed to bypass the demands of the representatives of the major powers.
The major powers were persuaded that stopping the nuclear program was enough, without addressing the fate of this program and also excluding any discussion on missile capabilities.
Iran made a tactical gain with the nuclear agreement. It was not consistent with the step-by-step policy, but rather at Iran’s request.
What North Korea is proposing, however, is partial disarming of nuclear weapons in exchange for partial lifting of international sanctions. President Trump rejected this proposal, calling for a total and unconditional abandonment by Pyongyang, then talking about the lifting of these sanctions.
Back in March, the mullahs’ regime found itself in a particularly difficult situation when Kim Jong Un announced North Korea will abandon its nuclear program and hold negotiations with the United States.
Kim closed a nuclear test site after a Singapore summit. Perhaps this step encouraged President Trump to withdraw from the nuclear agreement in order to maximize pressure on the Iranian regime to follow the North Korea example.
After President Trump acknowledged the failure of the second summit with Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, the mullahs took a breath and regained some of their confidence, thinking that North Korea would return to the top of the Trump administration’s list of priorities.
It’s not the case. Trump’s efforts on the North Korean issue have not failed, at least not yet.
The two leaders maintain contact, a line of communication and an open dialogue.
North Korea has not totally dismissed the idea of Kim Jong Un agreeing to hold a third summit with the US President to continue the dialogue.
Although the White House has denied this possibility, it is far from unlikely.
The Trump team should review the situation and reorganize the negotiating documents if an erroneous strategic assessment of the North Korean position is found to have been made. President Trump may have misunderstood his North Korean counterpart.
In fact, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a press conference that negotiations with the North Korean delegation were not expected to be difficult.
The US miscalculation that followed the Singapore Summit may have prompted Trump to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran. He was convinced that pressure and threats would be enough to succeed, but this confidence has been built into his character and that of his entourage, including John Bolton, the national security advisor.
The most likely scenario here is not to ease pressure on Iran or bring North Korea back into the threat circle.
The United States might increase pressure and threats against Iran and perhaps consider a military strike against it to send a strong message to North Korea.
Instead of using North Korea to intimidate Iran, Trump will probably use Iran to send the message to the North Korean leader.