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North Korea Sold Uranium to Libya
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That's the conclusion of a number of scientific studies done on Libya's nuclear material:

North Korea almost certainly sold processed uranium to Libya for atomic weapons, American intelligence agencies have concluded after scientific tests.

The intelligence has sparked a hunt to determine if North Korea also sold uranium to other nations, including Iran and Syria.

The conclusion about the uranium sale to Libya - in a classified briefing described to The New York Times - could alter Washington's assessment of North Korea's nuclear threat.

To which I would say: No shit.

I first heard this story this morning on C-SPAN, and it was not a top story on either CNN or BBC when I looked, but it's pretty damned big news.

This pretty much takes the notion of rational actors and mutually assured destruction and viable deterrents and flings it right out the friggin window, don't it?

This pretty much dispels the idiotic notion that the North Korean nuclear program is a direct response to being called part of the Axis of Evil, and that they are just worried and defense. Get it through your skulls, people...North Korea is an aggressive rogue police state run by a nutjob who only cares about living well and consolidating power while NK citizens suffer starvation and brutal oppression. Oh, and if all the missile sales to pretty much anybody who'd buy them didn't convince you, we now find out they were selling nuclear material to a terrorist state. Nice.

So can we please dispense with the moronic "but we put them on the defensive" crap?

This is a dangerous revelation because it demonstrates that North Korea really is fairly indiscriminate when it comes to selling whatever material or technology they have available.

Back in 2002 I wrote:

I think it's abhorrent that North Korea has been secretly developing nukes, with the help of permanent Security Council members like Russia and China. This is disgusting, as well as dangerous. Not because North Korea poses a direct threat to the United States. Critics should perhaps think a little more globally. They threaten our allies, most especially South Korea and Japan. But more dangerously, we've moved from a Cold War era into one in which small, highly-motivated, non-state organizations and individuals, such as Al Qaeda, have become much more empowered. The real danger of either North Korea or Iraq developing nukes is the large probability that they will sell either intact weaponry or knowledge to either other states or non-state entities. Iraq might very well be willing to sell nuclear secrets or weaponry to either Libya or Syria. Nuclear proliferation can not be left unchecked. More should have been done to prevent countries like India, Pakistan, North Korea, and yes, Israel, from developing nuclear weaponry, by force if necessary.

Many critics want to downplay the possibility that Iraq could develop nukes. I happen to think it's dangerously stupid to assume the best. I also think it's dangerously stupid to insist that unless Iraq is pointing a nuclear-armed ICBM at Washington, that we have no vested interest. I truly wish these critics would apply their thinking a little more broadly and a little more long-term.

Of course I talk about Iraq selling nuclear secrets or weaponry to Libya, but the entire passage is fairly prescient, if I do say so myself.

And I think it makes a damn fine case for assuming the worst when countries do not cooperate with international will and stopping nuclear powers from emerging before they get that chance.

Critics of the Iraq War continue to simply say "No WMD!", and as James Lileks has said, they seem to think this is like spreading a full house on the green felt. Um, no. There were no WMD, and that's a good thing. Would it have been better to have overestimated or underestimated what Saddam had? We were always going to be going off an incomplete estimate as long as the country in question is not cooperative. The question is which is more dangerous, to assume the best or assume the worst?

Saddam Hussein was not Kim Jong Il, and it is unclear whether or not he would have engaged in the same sort of rampant proliferation. But would it have been wise to tuck our hands in our pockets, whistle and tune, and keep right on walking in the face of over a decade of noncompliance?

A strong retroactive case can be made that in the early 90's, when the US and North Korea almost came to blows, that this might have been the best case scenario. Now NK has almost definitely passed the nuclear threshold (though again, because the picture is incomplete, and they are uncooperative, we have no way of knowing exactly what their capabilities are), and losses of any military conflict are almost certainly going to be catastrophic.

Though at this point we may have to do the unthinkable and actually consider military engagement with North Korea, now that we have firm evidence that they are selling uranium to the highest bidder. That information ought to scare the living bejeezus out of you, and if it doesn't, if you're one of those people that just wants to keep on blaming Bush for North Korea's behavior, then I'm not sure anything at this point would convince you.

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