No, North Korea did not just test an Iranian nuke

Jeffrey Lewis writes: When I last traveled to Seoul, I took in a ballgame. (I am now a fierce partisan of the Doosan Bears.) I headed to the ballpark, anticipating the perfect marriage of Korean and American culture: kimchi dogs!

As it turns out, South Koreans eat fried chicken at baseball games. Who knew? For reasons I cannot fathom, it has never occurred to anyone to smother a hot dog in spicy kimchi, despite the fact that this is fusion cuisine’s answer to peanut butter and jelly. The moral of this little tale is that just because two things ought to go great together, the real world sometimes disappoints.

Which brings us to nuclear cooperation between North Korea and Iran. There have been any number of stories in recent days detailing the allegedly close and continuing cooperation between nuclear weaponeers in both countries. A casual reader perusing the Sunday Times, Jerusalem Post, Kyodo News, and Chosun Ilbo might very well conclude that North Korea’s nuclear test was as good as an Iranian one. “Why Iran already has the bomb,” was the provocative title of an article in Tablet.

But, like kimchi dogs, it’s an obvious idea that doesn’t seem to have a basis in fact.

Many of the people pushing the “Iranian test” hypothesis are simply trying to hijack a Northeast Asian crisis for their own preferred policy in the Middle East, which usually involves bombing the crap out of Iran. Others are probably just fascinated by the idea of an international rogues gallery of scientists holed up in a fortress of doom, testing nuclear weapons. (Imagine Mohsen Fakhrizadeh asking Dr. No how he lost his hands, with Ri Je-son rolling his eyes at having to hear that story one more time.)

Few of these authors, however, seem to have thought very carefully about either the status of Iran’s nuclear program or the purpose of testing nuclear weapons in general. A careful consideration of both, however, helps illustrate why the reality is probably a lot less exciting than the headlines. [Continue reading…]

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