Agreed Framework with North Korea was a success in that it avoided a larger war, a metric that also applies to the deal with Iran
Faced with the prospect of a hostile, nuclear-armed North Korea in 1994, the Clinton administration reached a deal that required the North to give up its weapons program in return for energy assistance, the lifting of sanctions and better relations with the United States. In the late 1990s, however, we caught the North Koreans cheating and, early in the George W. Bush administration, the agreement collapsed. Today, the North’s reinvigorated bomb program may be poised, as Mr. Netanyahu pointed out in his recent speech to Congress, to produce as many as 100 nuclear weapons over the next five years.
Although our policy ultimately failed, the agreement did not. Without the 1994 deal, North Korea would have built the bomb sooner, stockpiled weapons more quickly and amassed a much larger arsenal by now. Intelligence estimates in the early 1990s concluded that the North’s nuclear program was so advanced that it could produce 30 Nagasaki-size nuclear weapons a year by the end of the decade. More than 20 years later, that still hasn’t happened.
The collapse of the North Korea deal has been used to argue that it is impossible to conduct diplomacy with rogue states. But the only litmus test that matters is whether an agreement serves our national interest, is better than having no deal at all, and is preferable to military force. The arrangement with Iran appears to be well on its way to meeting that standard.