North Korea, Iran and the Challenge to International Order: A Comparative Perspective, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

North Korea, Iran and the Challenge to International Order

A Comparative Perspective, 1st Edition

By Patrick McEachern, Jaclyn O’Brien McEachern


188 pages

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This book examines and compares the political situations in North Korea and Iran, and the contemporary security challenges posed by their illicit nuclear aspirations.

While government officials, including a series of American presidents, strategic policy documents and outside analysts have repeatedly noted that North Korea and Iran occupy a similar challenge, the commonality has largely been left unexplored. This book argues that North Korea and Iran are uniquely common in the world today in their illicit nuclear aspirations in violation of their legal commitments made under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The work evaluates alternative arguments, some of which sustain that the two states should be grouped together based on other metrics, such as nuclear powers that sponsor terrorist organizations or nuclear states that violate human rights, and find alternative explanations do not hold up to empirical scrutiny. Drawing on newly declassified documents and Iranian and North Korean sources, the book provides a comprehensive and comparative assessment of the two states’ social, historical, economic, and domestic political structures and situation to make these determinations. Furthermore, it reviews the nuclear issue stemming from Iran and North Korea and the efforts to constrain these programs. The book concludes with specific policy recommendations that apply diplomatic lessons learned from dealing with Iran to North Korea and vice versa.

This book will be of interest to students of nuclear proliferation, international security, foreign policy and International Relations.


"The emphasis on aspiration, as opposed to behaviour, is analytically liberating for both the authors and the reader. It allows the former to turn the discussion to the domestic politics of both countries, placing questions of factionalism and identity in a primary position."

Rosa Brooks, War, Survival: Global Politics and Strategy

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. A Comparative History

3. Domestic Politics, Economy, and Ideology

4. Foreign and Security Policy and Human Rights

5. Nonproliferation

6. Conclusions and Policy Implications

About the Authors

Patrick McEachern is a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow, Foreign Service Officer, and author of Inside the Red Box: North Korea’s Post-totalitarian Politics (2010). He has a PhD from Louisiana State University.

Jaclyn O’Brien McEachern is a practicing canon lawyer and author of multiple scholarly articles on the West’s relations with Islam. She has a PhD from The Catholic University of America.

About the Series

Routledge Global Security Studies

Global Security Studies is a series for cutting-edge monographs and books on international security. It emphasizes cutting-edge scholarship on the forces reshaping global security and the dilemmas facing decision-makers the world over. The series stresses security issues relevant in many countries and regions, accessible to broad professional and academic audiences as well as to students, and enduring through explicit theoretical foundations.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Asia / Korea
HISTORY / Middle East / Iran
HISTORY / Military / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / Arms Control
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / Diplomacy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / International Security