The Asan Forum

Iran and North Korea pursue the same ultimate goal: nuclear armament. However, they have chosen fundamentally different strategies and approaches. There are also stark differences in the legal regimes governing their nuclear activities, levels of commitment of stakeholders to halt and roll back the respective nuclear programs of the two states, and in the nature of alternatives to a diplomatic solution they face.

First and foremost, there is a subtle but clear difference in strategies. Iran’s immediate objective at the current stage is not nuclear weapons. It is to develop “capabilities” that can be used in manufacturing nuclear weapons whenever they decide to produce and deploy them. To this end, Iran has taken a smarter tactic of pretending to comply with the NPT under the cloak of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Even though there have been some violations of the IAEA safeguards along the way, they have been resourceful enough to take advantage of the loopholes and gaps in the current international nonproliferation regime in building their nuclear capabilities. Iran has thus far concentrated on reducing the distance from the breakout to the nuclear threshold.

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About Experts

Chun Yungwoo
Chun Yungwoo

The Asan Institute for Policy Studies

Amb. CHUN Yungwoo is a senior advisor at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies. He is also the chairman and founder of the Korean Peninsula Future Forum (KPFF). Previously, Amb. Chun served as the national security advisor to President Lee Myung-bak from 2010 to 2013. In his 33 years of service in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Chun served as second vice foreign minister (2009-2010), special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs and head of the ROK delegation to the Six-Party Talks (2006-2008), and deputy foreign minister for Policy Planning and International Organizations (2005-2006). Amb. Chun was also the Korean ambassador to the United Kingdom (2008-2009), ambassador and deputy permanent representative to the United Nations (2003-2005), and also held earlier diplomatic postings in France, Morocco, and Austria. Amb. Chun received his B.A. from Pusan National University and Master of International Affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.