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JH Ahn was an NK News contributor based in Seoul. He previously worked as an interpreter for United States Forces Korea.
A North Korean state-run paper on Monday voiced strong support for Iran’s launch of nuclear-capable missiles last month, praising it as the Teheran’s effort to maintain “autonomous development” to counter the increasing pressure from the West.
The Rodong Sinmun editorial, entitled “The West’s persistent machinations and Iran’s strong confrontation,” shared the North’s view of the ongoing power-struggle between Washington and Tehran, claiming continuing sanctions against Iran – even after last year’s nuclear agreement – are the atrocity.
“In July last year, once they reached an agreement on Iran’s nuclear issue, the U.S. unwillingly lifted economic sanctions on the country. But the U.S. has again picked on Iran for no reason, condemning Iran’s launch of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM),” the editorial read.
Iran, a nation that has enjoyed a long-standing working relationship with Pyongyang, has launched two nuclear-capable missiles in early March in defiance of the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, Reuters reported.
The North Korean editorial said that the missile launches were aimed at defending Iran’s territory, to secure peace and stability in the region and are not the violation of the U.S.-led UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
Pyongyang’s support for Teheran has not been limited to its strategy for national defense. The editorial described Tehran’s “Economy of Resistance” as the way to govern the country’s economy, and not grow more dependent on the U.S., it said.
“Iranian leader asserted that the country’s development of ‘Economy of Resistance’ would nullify enemies’ threats and sanctions, as well as autonomously resolve the unemployment, inflation and economic depression,” Rodong Sinmun read.
Balazs Szalontai of Korea University in Seoul told NK News that the editorial expresses the opinion and hope of Pyongyang that the post-2013 process of Iranian-Western rapprochement might be derailed by the current dispute over Iran’s ballistic missile program.
“Since Iranian-U.S. reconciliation would increase North Korea’s diplomatic isolation, and it would at least partially confirm the Obama administration’s claim that the absence of a similar U.S.-North Korean agreement is solely Pyongyang’s fault, North Korea has a strong stake in any renewed disagreement between Iran and the U.S.,” said Szalontai.
Meanwhile, Eom Sang-yoon, a researcher at the Sejong Institute, told NK News that the editorial is Pyongyang’s message to Washington and international society.
“The North Korean discussions in the editorial are centered around the ‘missiles launched for self-defense’ (theme),” said Eom.
“The editorial writes that Iran’s recent launches were for self-preservation cause, and this editorial can be read as Pyongyang’s message to Washington that their recent series of missile launches were for the cause of self-defense, and it would be unfair for the West to impose further sanctions on Pyongyang.”
As Eom said, two days prior to the publication of the North Korean editorial, the North on last Saturday claimed that ROK-U.S. joint military training “violently violates” its right to self-defense, and strongly denounced the U.N. Security Council’s judgement to refuse to punish the U.S. for its military exercises, which it says are aimed at overthrowing the North Korean government, Yonhap News Agency reported.
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons