Contrary to its colloquial name, the so-called Iran Deal of 2015 was scarcely about Iran in respect of its aims or origins.
The real reason that the deal came about was because the great world powers in addition to the EU did not actually want a war with Iran.
In spite of American rhetoric against Iran which continues to this day, most men in the Pentagon realise the dangers and the total madness of a US led war on Iran. Consequently, the Iran Deal came about as a way for the US to save face and say that it avoided a war it never really wanted in the first place, while going someway to try and placate the only two countries in the world foolish enough to occasionally desire such a war: Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The reality is that Saudi Arabia would be literally suicidal to attack Iran and even though Israel has a far more capable military than Saudi, even Israel would rather fight Iran via a proxy war in Syria and southern Lebanon. The Israeli media is surprisingly honest in saying that Israeli aggression against Syria is more about killing as many Hezbollah fighters as Israel can, than it is about attempting to influence events in Syria which even the United States and the European powers can scarcely influence at this stage.
Thus, the entire Iran deal was a farce, one that Tehran went along with in the hope that it might open up at least some new economic avenues. As it turns out, Iran’s developing partnership with Russia and its growing relationship with China mean that anything Iran might receive from the west at this point ought to be seen as a bonus rather than a necessity.
The same could be in store for North Korea. Today, Russia and China jointly issued a statement saying that it is the wish of both eastern super-powers that North Korea should freeze its nuclear programme and that the US and South Korea should stop conducting military drills. The statement also said that the US should halt further THAAD missile deployments to South Korea.
This is the moment that those fearing a US war on North Korea should breathe a sigh of relief. It will not happen just as sure as a joint Russian, Chinese, French, British, German and EU united front to bring the Iran issue to the discussion table rather than the war room table meant that there would be no war on Iran.
This means that should Pyongyang decide that it might want to test the waters and see what economic advantages it could gain from the major world powers as a result of nuclear concessions from its perspective, an Iran style deal could be in the cards.
It would be a face-saving move for all sides just as the Iran deal was. Furthermore, such a deal could actually give China and Russia the assurances they need to re-engage with North Korea commercially, something that would take far less persuasion than encouraging the United States.
Just as with Iran, the two countries who have the most pathological hatred for the Iranian government, Saudi and Israel would never in reality go to war with Iran in Iran, so too will Japan and South Korea not actually drive America into a war with Pyongyang. By contrast, America often justifies its bellicose rhetoric against Pyongyang through hiding behind Japan and South Korea. Now that the generally peace minded Moon Jae-in is the President of South Korea, these statements from the US are increasingly falling on deaf ears.
Just as the fact that the EU didn’t want to push the US into a Saudi and Israeli authored war with Iran, so too are Russia and China adamant that Washington shouldn’t listen to the extreme voices on the reactionary fringe of Japanese and South Korean politics.
Unlike with Iran, where Russia was the only country that was part of the deal which was located anywhere near Iran, Russia and China both share a border with North Korea. It is therefore China and Russia whose opinion really counts, far more than any other major powers.
Because of America’s increasingly decreased prestige on the world’s stage, it could be conceivable that Russia and China could reach a settlement between the two Korean states alone, one that the US would merely have to accept from the sidelines. We’ve already seen a similar reality in respect of the Astana Peace Process for Syria, where the US is not a member of the talks but has largely approved of the de-escalation zones established by Russia, Iran and Turkey.
Donald Trump has repeatedly asked China to ‘deal with’ North Korea via Twitter. Today, he may have accidentally gotten what he claimed he wished for.
In this sense, just as the Iran Deal had little to do with Iran, today’s statements in Moscow about North Korea have little to do with North Korea. They have everything to do with Russia and China asserting their influence in their own backyard and telling America to essentially accept the consequences and to be happy with the fact that Russia and China are far less aggressive than the US is.
This is multi-polarity in action.