Byline: Caroline Kelly
House lawmakers on Tuesday drew parallels between Iran and North Korea, and worried that Pyongyang’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon posed bad omens about the future for Tehran.
“It isn’t just that the Iranian regime is following the North Korean playbook,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) — the head the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East — while criticizing the international deal on Iran’s nuclear program.
“It’s that the Obama administration is following the same failed playbook that the Clinton and Bush administrations pursued," she added, during a hearing on the two nations.
“Iran can still work with North Korea to promote mischief in the world, and that is what is disturbing, especially in the area of international terrorism,” Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tex.), the head of the Terrorism and Nonproliferation subcommittee, told The Hill.
The connection between the two states is “a factor that members should take into consideration” when reviewing the deal, Poe added.
“They’re two rogue nations, they still will work together where they can, and I think that that might influence members on how they vote with the Iranian deal.”
Republicans have largely blasted the deal struck between the Obama administration, Iran and five other world powers earlier this month. They are expected to vote in a unified bloc to kill the deal in September, though it's unclear whether Democrats will join them to override a certain veto from the White House.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) — who has emerged as one of the most concerned Democrats about the Obama administration’s deal — voiced similar concerns as his GOP colleagues on Tuesday.
“We just have one country with a desperate desire for nuclear weapons, one with a desperate desire for money, and the one that has nuclear weapons is going to get its hands on a lot of money very soon,” he said.
North Korea is estimated to have fewer than ten nuclear weapons, which it developed in secret after years of international outrage and scrutiny.
It also “has a track record similar to Iran’s in failing to meet international obligations,” said Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), the head of the subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.
"The deal could put Iran on a path towards developing a nuclear bomb within 10 short years.”
Outside experts testifying before the panel largely agreed that the relationship between the two nations posed a threat to Western peace of mind.
“Iran has learned a tremendous amount about nuclear diplomacy and how the West negotiates through North Korea,” said Ilan Berman, the vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council.