Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bush Administration Delivers the Goods on North Korea’s Assistance for Syria’s Nuclear Program

I speculated here in essence that the Bush administration was getting ready to a) give North Korea a pass on its uranium enrichment program as well as its cooperation with Syria and b) delist North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism and release it from restrictions under the Trading with the Enemies Act. My point was that Japan would be called on to begin easing its sanctions (and, now that I think about it, also pitch in with some aid) if and when the entire plutonium cache and its status had been verified and the destruction process began. I saw the easing of sanctions as the logical conclusion of the reasoning and circumstances surrounding the 2006 October determination by the Abe Cabinet. I had intended to look at the implications of such a politically sensitive operation. But I think that I should put it off in light of the latest developments on persuasive evidence regarding North Korean assistance for a Syrian nuclear program. WaPo appears to have the most for a single news outlet. (I searched WaPo for (north korea nuclear), in case you want to skip the rest of my post/posts and fill yourself in on the story.

ADD: This is the briefing video.)

The consequences of the unexpected revelations, more than six months of silence after the Israeli attack on the facilities site and less than ten days after White House Press Secretary stated almost offhandedly that President Bush was on board the tentative deal that Chris Hill had struck, are unclear. What is clear is that getting the deal past Congress has become even more difficult.

One question that intrigues me (a lot of people, actually) is: Why now? The well-sourced David Sanger appears to be leaning towards the view that it’s an attempt by Vice President Cheney and his people to sabotage the deal that Chris Hill cut with his North Korean counterpart, ending his report with this paragraph:

“[Chris Hill]’s feeling pretty abandoned by Rice and Bush,” one of his colleagues said Wednesday. Mr. Hill did not respond to messages.

I’m not sure about that. Mr. Hill doesn’t seem to be the kind of person who would let on even if he felt that way. My money is on a deal between the two sides in the Bush administration: If we’re going to give North Korea probation on everything but the plutonium stockpile, let the world know that we have the goods, and see if the deal passes the stink test.

Okay, it does kinda stink, now that they tell us.

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