The current tensions surrounding North Korea illustrate very nicely how even a rather silly dictator ruling over a sub-negligible economy and a hermit-like country can tease and worry much more significant powers when and if he has nuclear weapons. And things aren’t made easier by the fact that Kim Jong-un is young and inexperienced, and that his generals have strong personal interest in misleading him as to his military strength. (The head of South Korea, too, is relatively new in his job, and President Obama has, thus far, faced no serious international crisis. So we’re potentially in uncharted waters.)
You can bet with assurance that Iran is watching this situation with intense interest. How is America reacting? How much can even economically anemic North Korea get away with? What leverage is this latest Kim family dynast able to wield? How many concessions, if any, will he win? How much power can he gain, by intimidation, over his regional neighbors?
And you can bet that Benjamin Netanyahu and the government of Israel are watching, as well, and calculating what, if anything, they may need to do in their own self-interest with regard to Iran — which is, in many ways, a possibly far more powerful regional hegemon than is North Korea is, in its neighborhood.
It may be just another Korean joke, but it could also be quite dangerous.