By Rob York
October 3, 2013
President Hassan Rouhani’s charm offensive has made many – though not all – cautiously optimistic of a new chapter in Iran’s relations with the West.
But experts agree that a breakthrough in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program will not automatically translate into similar success with North Korea – a nation with whom Iran has frequently been linked.
There are reasons for this connection, extending beyond former U.S. President George W. Bush’s labeling them as part of an “Axis of Evil” in 2002. Neither the North nor Iran has official relations with the United States. Both have deeply adversarial relations with a close U.S. ally in their respective regions. Both have caused the U.S. and its friends serious concern over their nuclear programs.
And Iran has been a reliable customer of North Korea’s arms trade, dating back to at least the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.
The two countries, however, have significant differences both in terms of their political systems and the states of their nuclear programs. For one thing, the change in Iran’s tone comes following Rouhani’s surprise election in June, as he campaigned on a platform of reform.
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