The Obama administration’s soft stance toward North Korea may embolden the rogue state to launch another nuclear test because it knows it can get away with extreme provocations, Fred Fleitz, managing editor of the global intelligence site LIGNET.com, told Newsmax.TV.
Fleitz said the administration has cut weak deals with both North Korea and Iran because it wants to delay any international crises until after the November election.
“The Obama administration wants to put off these issues until after the election. They want to strike any agreement to keep the international environment calm while the president is campaigning to be re-elected,” he said.
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“That’s why we had a bad deal with North Korea; that’s why we have a bad deal with Iran,” he said.
And while the administration plays for time, the North Korean regime will continue to flout the international community because it knows it will get nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
“It seems that North Korea believes it can act as badly as it wants. It can conduct provocations, as many as it needs to, and the United States will come back to the negotiating table with concessions,” Fleitz said. “We’ve seen that over and over again.”
Fleitz said the new leader of North Korea, Kim Jung Un, may feel he has to prove that he has a solid grip on the reins of power. The regime also thinks it can boost its status by provocative actions.
“It somehow thinks it increases its diplomatic game by engaging in such activities,” he said.
After the recent failed missile launch, North Korea may very well decide to see if it can get away with a nuclear test.
“Tensions between North and South Korea are increasing significantly, Fleitz said. “I think there’s probably a better than 50-50 chance that North Korea is considering a third nuclear test.”
Fleitz said much of the current problem originates with “an extremely weak deal” with North Korea on Feb. 29. In exchange for food aid, Pyongyang agreed to give the International Atomic Energy Agency limited access to some of its facilities.
“The problem with this is that we did not get the IAEA full access to all the nuclear facilities,” Fleitz said.
“I’m concerned that such a weak agreement by the United States with North Korea may have led them to test our resolve to see how far they could get by setting off this recent rocket launch,” he said.
While the United States doesn’t want to see the North Korean people suffer, Fleitz said he believes no food aid should be given without proof that it will actually go to starving people.
“I would say we shouldn’t be making any deals with North Korea on food aid or on nuclear missiles unless we have strict verification procedures,,” he said. “We have to make sure that food does not go to the military and is not sold.”
As for Iran, Fleitz told Newsmax.TV that recent negotiations produced nothing more than agreement to meet again on May 23. The problem with that, he said, is it gives Tehran more time to advance its nuclear program.
He said the real purpose of the talks, on Washington’s side, was to attempt to lower tensions – and hold off any Israeli plans to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran.
Fleitz said he thinks Israel will bide its time a little longer, but it won’t wait too long if Iran is not checked.
“I think Israel is probably going to wait until after the next round of talks. The window for Israel is closing when it can attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and make a difference in rolling it back,” Fleitz said.
“I don’t think the Israelis will be fooled too long by an agreement that is simply an agreement to meet again.”
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