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Libya fallout: Why Iran, North Korea now less likely to drop nuclear ambitions

Had Qaddafi held onto his nuclear program, would he be hiding from Western warplanes? Libya's lesson will make it even harder for the US to reach a deal with Iran or North Korea.

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It’s a pretty good bet that, as he sits in his fortified compound, Western airstrikes targeting his military, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi rues the day he heeded US pressures and gave up his nuclear weapons program.

And, more than a bet, it’s now a matter of record that Iranian leaders interpret Colonel Qaddafi’s plight as a lesson in why not to compromise with the US and other international powers on nuclear development. Their assumption is that, were Qaddafi still in possession of his nuclear and other WMD programs, the West would have thought twice before it attacked.

What that lesson virtually guarantees, though, is that while Iran’s nuclear program may have fallen off the front pages in the wake of Mideast turmoil and the Libyan conflict, the confrontation pitting Iran against the international community will eventually turn hotter than ever.

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The resistance of Iran (as well as that of North Korea) to any compromise on nuclear programs is “only going to get worse as a result of the Libyan adventure,” says Geoffrey Kemp, director of regional strategic programs at the Center for the National Interest in Washington. “Now the question of Iran is going to loom ever larger in the minds of many, and the administration is going to have to deal with this.”

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