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We ignore a greater threat than Iran

Caricature of SteveFormer Senator Joseph Lieberman has joined the chorus of present or past Democrats who are against the Iran Nuclear Deal as he explains in today’s Washington Post.

Last week New York Senator Charles Schumer declared his opposition. As the third ranking Democrat and expected successor to retiring  Harry Reid as Senate minority leader, Schumer’s influential decision is a stinging rebuke of President Obama’s efforts to persuade his party to support the deal with Iran.

Last month I argued here that the proposed Iran Nuclear accord is as good as we can expect given the often conflicting political agendas of the signatories—especially China and Russia.

Should the Senate vote down the agreement, there is no realistic likelihood that the White House can renew another round of talks. It won’t happen.

To be blunt, it’s take it or leave it.

Do we need this deal?

Ignored in the debate is whether we even need a treaty to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran, of course, has repeatedly professed that it is interested only in a peaceful energy source for domestic use. A posture nearly universally rejected by the major actors of the international community.  Tehran currently is years away from realizing a single nuclear weapon and the proposed Iran Nuclear Deal—although flawed—would forestall that eventuality for only a decade.

Furthermore, there is no demonstrable evidence that Iran poses any serious threat to Middle East stability either with or without nuclear weapons despite arguments to the contrary by the U.S. and Israel.

Ignoring a greater threat

As the world wrestles with how to constrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, on the other side of the world is a far more serious threat.  North Korea by some estimates already has as many as 20 nuclear devices.

And the nation’s erratic leader Kim Jong Un frequently issues provocative statements including one this week when he threatened the United States and South Korea if the planned joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises scheduled for next week proceed

Given Kim Jung Un’s bellicosity  and the nuclear weapons he has to carry out his threats, we should ask whether our concerns with Iran are misplaced.

Regardless of the Congressional vote on the Iran Nuclear Deal, our obsession with that debate distracts our attention from the far greater threat posed by North Korea to regional stability and world peace.

A major power with nuclear ambitions and dreams of regional hegemony. That’s North Korea not Iran.

It’s time to wake up and take that threat seriously.

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