Conservative Media Ignore The Differences Between Iran And North Korea Nuclear Agreements

Conservative media figures reacted to the announced nuclear deal with Iran by comparing the deal with the 1994 Agreed Framework negotiated with North Korea. These flawed comparisons failed to note several key differences between the substance of the two agreements and between the situations of the two countries at the time the deals were made.

Historic Nuclear Deal Struck Between Iran And Six Major World Powers

President Obama Announces Nuclear Deal With Iran Has Been Reached. The U.S. and international negotiators announced a deal with Iran on July 14, under which “sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations will be lifted in return for Iran agreeing [to] long-term curbs on a nuclear program that the West has suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb.” From Reuters:

Iran and six major world powers reached a nuclear deal on Tuesday, capping more than a decade of negotiations with an agreement that could transform the Middle East.

U.S. President Barack Obama hailed a step towards a “more hopeful world” and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said it proved that “constructive engagement works”.


Under the deal, sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations will be lifted in return for Iran agreeing long-term curbs on a nuclear program that the West has suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb.

Iran will mothball for at least a decade the majority of its centrifuges used to enrich uranium and sharply reduce its low-enriched uranium stockpile. [Reuters, 7/14/15]

Conservative Media Figures Compare Deal With 1994 North Korean Agreement

Hannity: “This Is Exactly What Happened In North Korea's Nuclear Deal.” On the July 13 edition of The Sean Hannity Show, Sean Hannity said:

HANNITY: There is something really, deeply, radically wrong with a president that does not see the danger here. But he's doing it anyway


Sounds like Bill Clinton's announcement of North Korea's nuclear deal. It's déjà vu all over again. Remember what Bill Clinton said about North Korea, it sounds like what Obama's saying about Iran. [The] Clinton deal didn't work and North Korea's a nuclear nation and they got a ton of money out of us on top of it all." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 7/13/15]

Fox's Jenna Lee: “Some Say [The North Korea Deal] Can Apply More Here” Than Other Examples. On the July 14 edition of Fox's Happening Now, host Jenna Lee compared the Iran deal with the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea. She asked a guest to address this, saying: “Go back ... as we wrap up our conversation here, about the North Korea deal. Because again, that's more recent history, and it -- some say it can apply more here than going back to the Soviet Union as a model.” [Fox News, Happening Now, 7/14/15]

Fox's Eric Bolling: North Korea Deal Had “A Similar Path” As Iran Deal. On the July 14 edition of Fox's The Five, co-host Eric Bolling asked, “So how did the deal with made with North Korea turn out? How did that one turn out? Because it was a similar path.” [Fox News, The Five, 7/14/15]

Fox Guest Tony Shaffer: Iran Deal Has “The Same Framework” As North Korea Deal. On the July 14 edition of Fox's Your World, Tony Shaffer said the nuclear deal with Iran has “the same framework” as the 1994 deal with North Korea. Shaffer claimed that the deal doesn't “have a clear path to inspect nuclear facilities regarding the military, and that's critical. We learned that lesson in the '90s with North Korea.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 7/14/15]

The Iran Nuclear Deal Is Much More Detailed Than The North Korean Agreement, And The Countries' Circumstances Are Different

State Department's Marie Harf: Unlike Iran, “North Korea Had Produced Weapons-Grade Plutonium Prior” To Agreement. In a press briefing on April 23, State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf addressed the comparison between the Iran deal and the North Korean Agreed Framework:

MS HARF: There's no - the comparison is just - they're completely different things, and I'm happy to talk through why a little bit. The comprehensive deal we are seeking to negotiate with Iran is fundamentally different than what we did in terms of our approach to North Korea. In the early 1990s, North Korea had produced weapons-grade plutonium prior to agreeing to limited IAEA inspections. After the Agreed Framework, they agreed to more intrusive inspections; but in 2002, when they finally broke its commitments, its violations were detected by the IAEA. We've also said very publicly that one of the reasons we have the Additional Protocol now, which is a key part of what we're negotiating with Iran, is in fact because of the lessons we learned from the North Korea situation. [U.S. Department of State, 4/23/15]

National Interest: Unlike The Four-Page North Korea Deal, Iran Deal Has “Unprecedented Degree Of Monitoring And Inspections.” Paul Pillar, nonresident senior fellow for both the Center for Security Studies and the Brookings Institution, wrote in his blog for The National Interest, “The Agreed Framework was a sketchy four-page document that provided for little in the way of monitoring and enforcement. In contrast, the leading feature of the agreement being negotiated with Iran is its unprecedented degree of monitoring and inspections. The final agreement will have an enforcement and dispute resolution mechanism consistent with the Additional Protocol pertaining to work of the International Atomic Energy Agency.” [The National Interest, 5/19/15]

CEIP: Unlike North Korean Agreement, “The P5+1 Are Unified In Wanting To Prevent Iran From Acquiring Nuclear Weapons.” According to an April 28 article by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) titled “Why the Iran Nuclear Deal Is Not the North Korea Deal,” all members of the P5+1, including Russia and China, are involved and invested in the deal, unlike the bilateral North Korean deal between only the U.S. and North Korea:

The negotiations that produced the 1994 Agreed Framework were conducted by the United States and the DPRK alone. The other permanent members of the UN Security Council were not invested in it and in its enforcement.

The P5+1 perceive major national and collective interests in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and in upholding the NPT. Each of these states has invested national prestige in demonstrating that their collective effort can abate a threat to international peace and security. They have made this clear in a number of ways, including by authorizing and enforcing an unprecedented array of economic sanctions on Iran. The intensity of these states' support for sanctions has varied, and the P5+1--particularly Russia--may have different priorities in dealing with Iran if and when the nuclear case is resolved. But there is reason to believe that they all are prepared to hold Iran to account for fulfilling the terms of an agreement. [Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 4/28/15]

CEIP: Iran Deal “Explicitly Addresses All Pathways To The Bomb.” The April 28 CEIP article further explained that in contrast to the deal with North Korea, every path to nuclear weapons is addressed in the Iran deal:

The Agreed Framework focused specifically on the DPRK's plutonium program. The framework also reaffirmed the DPRK's broader commitment not to seek nuclear weapons by any means, pursuant to the 1992 Joint Declaration of South and North Korea on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. As it turned out, the DPRK secretly imported uranium enrichment technology from Pakistan and developed a parallel route for acquiring weapons-usable fissile material.

The proposed agreement with Iran explicitly covers both the uranium and plutonium pathways to acquiring nuclear weapons, and includes extensive measures to verify that declared and undeclared pathways would be blocked. [Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 4/28/15]