Why do North Korea and Iran feel the need for nuclear weapons? The standard model for nukes is a head-to-head race, like the U.S. vs. the old U.S.S.R. We had them, so they had to get them, or vice versa. Same with Pakistan and India, perpetual enemies.
North Korea says it wants nukes to deter a U.S. attack. Surely they know that the best way to get attacked is to use a nuclear weapon or sell the technology to the wrong people.
Iran says it's a matter of national pride. National pride? It takes nuclear weapons to be proud of oneself? Iran should consider that nobody wants nuclear weapons, and nobody wants to use them. Anyone possessing nukes wishes they never needed them in the first place. After all, a country must have extremely powerful enemies to warrant a nuclear weapons program.
Having a powerful military does instill national pride, and I certainly fall into that camp. But, when it comes to the American military, the thing I'm most proud of is inventing the internet and giving it to the world. ARPANET, the world's first packet-switched computer network, was a project of the U.S. military (Defense Advanced Research Projects, or DARPA). It was first switched on in September 1969.
China, one of the Big Three in nuclear weapons capability, is so desperate for foreign investments and world recognition that they have gone to great lengths to get a date on the Formula 1 racing calendar and to secure an Olympic venue. China even entered the Twilight Zone last year when they had a beauty pageant for women who had had cosmetic facial surgery. It was a strange attempt to tell the world, "See, it's not just Beverly Hills USA, we're modern and successful, too."
If any of the beauty contestants had walked out onto the street and criticized the government, however, she would have disappeared.
Though China's attempts are desperate, they are much better than nukes. North Korea and Iran should try to develop their countries sufficiently to host the Olympics or an international auto race rather than threaten the world with nuclear belligerence.
Perhaps the best way for these oppressive societies to gain respect is to change to a democratic form of government. Nobody will respect an Islamic theocracy -- ever. Nobody will respect a country lacking basic freedoms -- ever. And, nobody will ever respect North Korea in its present form. With each odd threat, these countries lose respect.