With sanctions and rhetoric, President Donald Trump may be pushing North Korea and Iran closer together. On Wednesday, while in Seoul on his Asia tour, three U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups displayed military strength nearby, while Trump gave dire warnings to North Korea's leader to abandon nuclear weapons. "Do not underestimate us, and do not try us," Trump said while addressing the National Assembly. It's a dangerous game of brinkmanship.
In refusing to certify Iranian compliance with the JCPOA — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal — the Trump administration hopes to keep Iran from becoming another nuclear armed adversary state.
But experts say that by walking away from the Iran accord while simultaneously trying to coax North Korea back to the negotiating table, the Trump administration doesn't just risk undermining its own efforts to strike a deal with Kim Jong Un's regime over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The president also risks pushing the two pariah states closer together, potentially rekindling a collaborative military-to-military relationship that reaches back decades and heightening the prospect that ballistic missile and nuclear weapons technologies will proliferate. It is a relationship former President George W. Bush coined "the axis of evil."