The Middle Eastern scenario by the 21st century is entirely different than OTL. Remember that Saudi Arabia (which has been a toxic influence on the Middle East since it's foundation) is dead and whatever arose in it's place will not have the revenue stream that oil provided.All this would further destabilize the Middle East during our version of the Arab Spring. The scary thing is that they are almost all under 30 years old, and have no love for democracy, corporate rule, Israel, and communism, and most have lived lives of abject poverty. They will want some representation, and they can get nuclear weapons...
As for North Korea, as I said before they did so because their mission was a High Risk gamble to claim First Place in the Race to Mars using the most bare bone means of doing so that was of no practical value besides saying "First" and even if succeeds would make them look like assholes, and the gamble paid off instead of having two dead men flying out into space or as a pile of ash and shrapnel strewn across the face of Mars. They're on the M7 because because the Soviets probably pushed for it because of A: symbolic reasons and B: it leads to a balance of powers. You have the United States, EU and Japan on one side, The Soviet Union, CCCS and North Korea on the other and India in the Middle as a tie-breaker. It's not even cynical politics, just pragmatic politics. The last bit is all but overtly said in the Show.