The U.S. is sanctioned out when it comes to Iran and North Korea. We don’t have any more unilateral sanctions with which to pressure either regime to halt its nuclear adventure. The only countries that could have an impact on North Korea and Iran are China and Russia.China and Russia, however, are not at that stage yet, on North Korea, given the reports today.
If China told North Korea that unless it dismantled its nuclear program and put its facilities under U.N. inspection, Beijing would cut off its energy and food, Kim Jong-il would relent. He is not suicidal. Anything less than such an explicit Chinese threat will mean a nuclear North Korea and eventually a nuclear Asia — which will certainly not be good for China’s growth prospects.
And if China and Russia told Iran that they would join in the toughest possible U.N. economic sanctions on Tehran if it persisted in its nuclear program, the ayatollahs would also back down. Because then the Europeans would have the spine to join in sanctions and Tehran would face a united front.
What welcome news it would be to have leading nations step up and balance American leadership on such significant challenges. The world's not looking so stable after six years of W's watch.