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Fred Kaplan on North Korea
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Oh dear.

Have a look at this idiotic article by Fred Kaplan in Slate.

It's just chock full of revisionist history, Bush-blaming, and naivety.

He starts out by saying that the news that NK has nukes is not really news at all, then he provides "a little history":

In 1993-94, the North Koreans threatened to reprocess their nuclear reactor's spent fuel rods into plutonium—the fastest way to get nuclear weapons. After a tense standoff, Kim Jong-il and President Bill Clinton signed an "Agreed Framework." The rods were locked in a pool and placed under continuous monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency. In exchange, the United States promised to furnish North Korea with two light-water reactors for fuel and, eventually, to establish full diplomatic relations. By the end of the decade, the deal was collapsing. The United States never came through with the reactors or the relations; Kim secretly pursued nukes through enriched uranium. But those fuel rods, which could have processed enough plutonium for more than 50 bombs by the time Clinton left office, stayed locked up.

Um...okay. This makes it sound like because that plutonium was under lock and key that NK was abiding by the Agreed Framework and playing by the rules until:

In October 2002, the CIA caught on to the enriched-uranium ploy, and the North Koreans, once presented with the evidence, confessed (though they later retracted the admission). In December, the North Koreans tried to replay the crisis of 1993, threatening to unlock the fuel rods, kick out the IAEA's monitors, and reprocess plutonium unless President George W. Bush supplied fuel aid and promised not to invade.

Nice fast forward, Fred. Again, the implication presented by this article is that the NK nuclear program was either very slow or on freeze until Bush was elected and started throwing around cowboy rhetoric.

Kaplan conveniently skips the last years of the 90's, and talks about the CIA catching on to the uranium enrichment program in 2002, vaguely omitting a discussion of what was going on during that time.

So let me know quote from a PBS Frontline interview with Kim Duk Hong, the highest-ranking government official to defect from North Korea.

From the Clinton administration's point of view, they were able to negotiate a freeze of the nuclear plant at Yongbyon. Didn't that slow the nuclear program?

Of course, I think the Clinton administration was great. The United States solved the problem peacefully. It was historic. [But the North Koreans] resumed the development of nuclear weapons as soon as they signed the Geneva Agreed Framework, even before the ink dried on the paper.

In 1995, the national military industry secretariat went to Pakistan to trade skills in exchange for producing nuclear weapons. They sent engineers to Pakistan after they signed for Geneva Agreed Framework in 1994. They began to talk about nuclear weapons with Pakistan 1995. It is true.

Do you believe that Clinton administration was naive in dealing with Kim Jong Il?

First of all, I think that they didn't know North Korea, Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il. That was their big mistake.

So basically they agreed to lock down the plutonium and the same week they signed that agreement, they started research on uranium weapons.

Let's hear more from the interview:

A new administration in Washington is taking a tougher line in North Korea. Do you think is it proper?

I think that Bush knows how to treat Kim Jong Il. Don't trust Kim Jong Il, never, ever. What Kim Jong Il is doing is producing nuclear weapons to kill people in the world, and providing expertise in nuclear weapon development to countries which are anti-American.

He kills our people, arrests people who are against his administration. He produces drugs. It's a national industry. He kidnaps other people from South Korea, or other democratic countries. He is doing all sorts of bad things, like the devil. Do not trust him, never, ever.

Well, Kaplan says shit like this:

Not until last June did Bush authorize James Kelly, then the assistant secretary of state, to put a specific offer on the table. Yet the offer was nearly identical to a deal that the North Koreans had proposed 18 months earlier, before they started reprocessing the plutonium. They would need a much more attractive bargain to cash in the chips, once they had them.

Now that the elections are over—the one here and the one in Iraq—will Bush start to focus on this genuine nuclear crisis? Now that the secretary of state is his trusted adviser, Condoleezza Rice, will he pursue a negotiating strategy?

Now this is disingenuous as well. For at least the past couple of years the Bush policy is not to engage in direct negotiations, knowing that NK could easily default on them and blame the US on bad faith. The policy has been to demand multilateral talks, and that is sensible policy. North Korea can default and weasel out of bilateral agreements, but it's much harder to do so if their powerful neighbors are on the treaty.

Listen to the defector, Fred.

Bush knows how to treat Kim Jong Il.

Do not trust him.



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