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    genius..., 2007-08-20 18:45:22 | Main | question..., 2007-08-21 08:34:49

    how to lose influence and make enemies:

    I was just reading up on the backgrounds of various country nuclear weapons programs to see if any had ever actually developed nuclear weapons while under an IAEA Safeguards Agreement (answer: no) and came across this old story from last March about the US intelligence on North Korea's alleged uranium enrichment program. Keep in mind the official story is such that US accusations regarding the enrichment program is what ultimately lead to the breakdown of the Agreed Framework. As the State Deptartment recalls it:

    In October 2002, a U.S. delegation confronted North Korea with the assessment that the D.P.R.K. was pursuing a uranium enrichment program, in violation of North Korea's obligations under the NPT and its commitments in the 1992 North-South Joint Declaration on Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the Agreed Framework. North Korean officials asserted to the U.S. delegation, headed by then-Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James A. Kelly, the D.P.R.K.'s "right" to a uranium enrichment program and indicated that that it had such a program. The U.S. side stated that North Korea would have to terminate the program before any further progress could be made in U.S.-D.P.R.K. relations. The United States also made clear that if this program were verifiably eliminated, it would be prepared to work with North Korea on the development of a fundamentally new relationship. Subsequently, the D.P.R.K. has denied the existence of a uranium enrichment program. In November 2002, the member countries of KEDO's Executive Board agreed to suspend heavy fuel oil shipments to North Korea pending a resolution of the nuclear dispute.

    In late 2002 and early 2003, North Korea terminated the freeze on its existing plutonium-based nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, expelled IAEA inspectors, removed seals and monitoring equipment at Yongbyon, withdrew from the NPT, and resumed reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel to extract plutonium for weapons purposes. North Korea announced that it was taking these steps to provide itself with a deterrent force in the face of U.S. threats and U.S. "hostile policy."

    The news last March was that the US didn't really know whether the DPRK had any uranium enrichment program to suspend:

    The chief intelligence officer for North Korea, Joseph R. DeTrani, told Congress on Tuesday that while there is "high confidence" North Korea acquired materials that could be used in a "production-scale" uranium program, there is only "mid-confidence" such a program exists. Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill, the chief negotiator for disarmament talks, told a conference last week in Washington that it is unclear whether North Korea ever mastered the production techniques necessary for such a program.

    The administration's stance today stands in sharp contrast to the certainty expressed by top officials in 2002, when the administration accused Pyongyang of running a secret uranium program -- and demanded it be dismantled at once. President Bush told a news conference that November: "We discovered that, contrary to an agreement they had with the United States, they're enriching uranium, with a desire of developing a weapon."

    Yeah, but, you say, according to James Kelley they openly admitted to James Kelley that they already had one:

    U.S. participants at the meeting said in interviews there was little dispute at the time North Korea appeared to be admitting the program, though one said the admission was more "tonal" -- such as the North Korean official's belligerent attitude -- than would appear in the transcript of the discussion.

    Oh. Gee whiz.

    Anyway, let this be a lesson on how exaggerated and misleading accusations based on non-existent intelligence [pdf] can backfire and convince member states to the NNPT that there's no value to remaining a member.


:: posted by buermann @ 2007-08-20 22:46:43 CST | link





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