Friday, October 01, 2004

Kaplan on Kerry, Round 1

He thinks Kerry Takes Round 1. And here's part of the reason why.
North Korea: Kerry killed on this one. While Bush went to war against Saddam Hussein on the false belief that he might be developing a "weapons of mass destruction-related program," North Korea—another spoke on the "axis of evil"—started to develop real nuclear weapons. When Bush took office, 8,000 fuel rods were locked in a storage pond under continuous monitoring of international inspectors. As Kerry correctly noted, Colin Powell said publicly he'd continue on course—and President Bush publicly admonished him. Within months, the North Koreans kicked out the inspectors, unlocked and carted away the fuel rods, and reprocessed them into weapons-grade plutonium—in the course of which Bush did nothing. Kerry called for opening bilateral talks with North Korea to solve the problem.

President Bush said such talks would be a "big mistake." If we sat down one-on-one, he said, North Korea would walk out of the six-power talks, which also involve Japan, South Korea, Russia, and China. Bilaterals will accomplish nothing. Kerry replied that just because Bush says they'll accomplish nothing doesn't mean they will.

Point for Kerry. But it would have been a more solid point had Kerry noted that all the other participants in those six-power talks want the United States to have bilateral talks with North Korea.

Update: The Agreed Framework began to fall apart during the Clinton administration in 1996. The conservative US Congress resisted the funding necessary to provide the promised light water reactors to the DPRK. With the LWRs not forthcoming the DPRK began acting out in various ways that resulted in an even more reduced response on our side to the Agreed Framework commitments. In 1997 the DPRK clandestinely acquired uranium enrichment technology from Pakistan. With Bush (hswib) in office they had nothing to lose by reprocessing the spent fuel they had accumulated from their 5 megaWatt graphic reactor into weapons-grade plutonium.

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