A rogue nation launches a program to build nuclear weapons. A Democratic US President with the participation of allies and the blessing of the United Nations enters negotiations to end that program. A US Republican Congress considers any negotiation an appeasement. In spite of the challenges an agreement is ultimately negotiated. Republicans in Congress are not satisfied with the terms and unwilling to support its implementation. The agreement takes withering rhetorical abuse from Congress while the President tries to keep it alive.
Finally a Republican President is elected. In spite of the IAEA certification that the rogue nation is complying with its responsibilities the new President decides the United States will no longer honor the agreement and orders US violation of its terms. His Republican base cheers.
Yeah! Yeah! I know what you are probably saying: There’s another liberal Democrat who just can’t get over loosing the election. Well, think again. I am not a Democrat in the first place. I am a MODERATE conservative, in fact a Republican until the party abandoned me and its own conservative values. And the case I am describing is not about Obama, Trump and Iran. It is the US political behavior after the previous nuclear agreement negotiated by the United States. The players then were Clinton, Bush and North Korea (DPRK).
The North Korea deal was fairly straight forward and simple. The DPRK would agree to shut down one operating research reactor, stop construction of two others designed for electricity generation but capable of producing plutonium, and allow IAEA inspectors regular ongoing inspection of its facilities. In exchange the US and it allies would agree to provide North Korea two light water reactors for electricity generation to replace the ones they would stop constructing. The US would also end economic sanctions, normalize bilateral relations with the DPRK, and provide 500,000 tons of heavy fuel oil each year for electricity generation until the light water reactors were operational.
Congress never took the steps to normalize relations and slow rolled the funding for construction of the light water reactors. Because of lack of US commitment deliveries of fuel oil were often late or short of the quantity agreed. North Korea warned several time that they would restart their own nuclear program if the US did not begin to live up to its commitments.
Finally with the US Presidency in Republican hands George W. Bush abandoned the agreement all together. North Korean restarted its nuclear program and detonated its first atomic weapon in 2006. At that point President Bush desperately tried to restart negotiations to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. But that train had left the station.
President Trump has just “torn up” a similar agreement with Iran this past week. Is that sound foreign policy or irresponsibility? Does dealing honestly and keeping our word as a nation mean anything anymore?
As he abandons the Iran agreement Trump is about to initiate similar negotiations with North Korea yet again. The same Republican Party so against the Iran agreement and the earlier North Korean agreement are now thrilled that the President is making this “courageous” new initiative with North Korea. Are international commitments only important when the President and Congressional leaders are alt-right Republicans? Anyone putting odds on when Iran will test its first nuclear device?