Then came the Bushies, who didn't believe in treaties for the Lords of the Earth, which they must have been since they beat the Soviets in the Cold War. So they could just push punks like the North Koreans around. In 2004, they accused the North Koreans of developing a uranium enrichment plant, which, on top of a number of other strains in the relationship, cratered the Agreed Framework. Good. No more agreements with guys that the neocons would prefer to regime change.
So I'm wondering about the timeline on the enrichment plant that the North Koreans just showed Sig Hecker (NYT, LA Times, Sky News, BBC) Sig is quoted as saying the development of the plant was rapid, which suggests it happened after 2004. Last year, there was some indication that this was coming.
The North Koreans have rather regularly reached out to Sig. He was the person most responsible for reaching out to the ex-Soviet weapons scientists when the Soviet Union collapsed, and it's clear that the North Koreans would like him to do the same for them. Unfortunately, it's mixed with a lot of bluster, which is exacerbated by stuff like the Bush/neocon swagger about regime change, accusations, and general boneheadedness. Yes, the North Koreans do a certain amount of swaggering, but responding in kind isn't serious diplomacy.
So did the Bushies' accusation of a uranium-enriching plant encourage the North Koreans to go ahead with one? That would show the world their capabilities. Or, if they're going to be accused of something they don't have, they might as well have it.
All the news accounts I've linked above emphasize the weapons possibilities (fear this!) and how this is going to make negotiations that much harder. I suspect that when they interviewed Sig, he said some things about North Korea's desire to reach out as well as the dangers; he always says such things in his presentations, of which I've seen several.
Another Bushian mess to clean up.
Update: Paragraph added to clarify what the time sequence might be telling us.
Yet another update: Sig's report. h/t to Plutonium Page.
From the report:
A high-level North Korean government official told usI have heard Sig mention numerous "hints" that the North Koreans have provided. I'm hoping the negotiators have been listening to them too.
that the October 2000 Joint Communiqué, which brought Secretary Madeleine Albright
to Pyongyang, is a good place to start.
More from someone who's been talking to Sig recently.
Welcome to those clicking over from Crooks & Liars. I've written a more recent post on Senate politics over the New Start Treaty here.