Monthly Archives: May 2005

North Korea Reacts to Recent Meeting With U.S.

North Korea’s FM responded to the 13 May “bilateral meeting”: between US and DPRK officials with a “positive statement”:

bq. The DPRK will continue to closely follow the U.S. attitude and its stand will be officially conveyed to the U.S. side through the contact channel in New York when an appropriate time comes.

Well, postive for the North Koreans, who also complained that some US officials issued …

bq. …an endless string of balderdash at a time when the DPRK is seriously studying the U.S. stance, which it had learned through the contact in New York, in connection with what the Bush administration has said. This only creates confusion in guessing the U.S. stand.

Pyongyang objects to a pair of statements by Rice and Hadley regarding a Security council “referral”: and other “punitive measures”: should North Korea test a nuclear weapon.

Seoul’s neighbor to the North is livin’ large in a glass house when it comes to endless strings of balderdash, but the complaint is reminder that people like _our_ Dear Leader should take Ari Fleischer’s advice to “watch what they say” while trying to get the talks back on track.

Jack Pritchard — who knows something about dealing with North Koreans — recently commented on President Bush’s tendency to say “whatever pops into his head”:: at a “Center for American Progress event”:

…there is a concern I have had that this administration has a schizophrenic approach to North Korea. I was thinking, you know, you got to be very careful. That’s a medical term. So you
know, I’m very judicious here.

I went and I consulted with a very eminent medical person and he said, “No, I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think they have a schizophrenic approach. I think it’s more basic than that.

I think the president of the United States has a very little known disease called Kim Jong Il-itis. It’s a rare form of Tourette Syndrome in which in an uncontrollable and unexplained manner he will just explode and talk about Kim Jong Il; perhaps as his chief negotiator is, oh, say Tokyo, Beijing, talking up the advantages of a policy.”

I jest a little bit, but not by much.

More on US-North Korea Talks

It should be noted that last week’s secret US- North Korea discussions didn’t come entirely out of nowhere. In fact, North Korea has recently been suggesting such talks.

While Pyongyang obviously backed away from its demands that SecState Rice apologize to them for her “tyranny” remarks, the secret talks also seem to have been North Korea’s way of both giving and getting face-saving paths back to the six-party talks.

The meeting last Friday was probably in response to statements like this 8 May gem from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry:

There were only press reports that the U.S. is ready to recognize the DPRK as a sovereign state and hold bilateral talks within the framework of the six-party talks.

If there be any request from our side, we only expressed our intention to directly meet the U.S. side to confirm whether those reports are true before making a final determination.

This does not mean any intention to hold the DPRK- U.S. talks for discussing the issues between them. What we mean is a simple working procedure for confirming the U.S. stance in the true sense of the word.

Additionally, Selig Harrison reported last month that, according to First Deputy Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju, the United States must indicate that it will respect North Korea’s sovereignty. Kang added that “we want to hear it directly in open or secret discussions with the United States.”

According to Harrison, Kang also said:

We need a springboard to be at the six-party talks … some signal that the United States treats us with respect. We have to convince our Army and our people that we are acting in a way consistent with the dignity of a sovereign state that is respected as a strong military state. It’s not a difficult thing to be at the six-party talks, but we can’t do so if we are going there under pressure.

It’s not directly related, but we should also note that the North Koreans “have also hinted”: that they’ll discuss their HEU program:

[A] congressional source, as well as a witness to at least one such discussion, told Arms Control Today that these officials have suggested to unofficial interlocutors within the past several months that Pyongyang is willing to discuss U.S. concerns about the program in private bilateral talks.

Hopefully, another round of six-party talks will happen soon. But the Bush people know that if their policy is failing, they can always resort to lying and blaming the Clinton administration.

For example, Tim Russert “asked Andy Card”: a couple of weeks ago, “Could it be said that President Bush was so focused on Iraq that another far greater threat emerged and that six nuclear bombs were developed by North Korea on his watch?”

Card then lied through his teeth:

Or on President Clinton’s watch. Some of those weapons may well have been produced as the North Koreans were violating the agreement that they had with President Clinton. And that’s what a North Korean delegate said to an American diplomat, and they said it with great pride.

This is total bullshit. Russert was clearly referring to weapons that may have been produced from the spent nuclear fuel that had been monitored by the IAEA until the Bush administration screwed the pooch in fall 2002. When Card mentioned that North Korea was “violating” the Agreed Framework, he was talking about North Korea’s HEU program. But Pyongyang has no uranium-based weapons that we know of.

The Washington _Times_, “shockingly”: , referred to critiques of the Bush North Korea policy as “political cheap shots.”

Speaks for itself.

More on the Bolton/Iraq Intel Debate

I’ll get my .02 in.

The point of the discussion RE: the Niger fiasco is that Bolton was cherry-picking intelligence. He ignored INR’s conclusions on this matter because he wanted to believe something different.

The “circus tent known as NRO”: dutifully defends this practice:

bq. Bolton in many ways was a model consumer of intelligence as undersecretary of State for arms control. He read everything, but never accepted anything without asking probing questions. Intelligence is not received from on high. It is almost always subject to interpretation, and if Bolton brought (appropriately) hawkish assumptions to his reading of the data, some of the analysts with whom he clashed brought different assumptions.

Remember that Bolton’s supporters can’t have it both ways: Bolton cannot be BOTH an astute intelligence consumer AND someone who was misled by the IC. The problem is that Bolton wrongly thought that he had better judgment than his own intel analysts.

For example, Daveed correctly notes that the CIA was still talking up the Niger claim a couple days before the fact sheet went out. However, he falsely claims that INR cleared the fact sheet. According to the Senate report, INR said:

bq. “as you know, INR assesses this reporting as dubious. Policymakers are entitled to leave out the word ‘reported,’ but the INR/SPM would not sign off on such a move.”

Now, it is true that the CIA was inconsistent in its assessment of the Niger data. However, the Senate Intel Committee’s report makes it perfectly clear that information existed which cast doubt on the Niger reporting.

For example, the CIA “widely distributed in routine channels” a March 2002 report detailing what Amb. Joe Wilson found (nothing of consequence) when he visited Niger earlier that year. The CIA also had reports from two other sources who had said pretty much the same thing.

(As an aside, it needs to be acknowledged that the much-maligned Wilson was right .)

A couple of other salient points:

* Regardless of the state of the intelligence in December 2002, the administration had intelligence by March 2003 which disproved its earlier contentions regarding Iraq’s alleged nuclear weapons program. If it had waited for the inspectors to finish their job, Washington would have had even stronger proof that Iraq had no program to speak of.

* Bolton didn’t learn his lesson, as his later battles with the IC (esp. over Syria) make clear.

You’d think the needless deaths of a lot of innocent people would lead hawks to be more humble. But then, you’d think a lot of things…

Arms Control Gurus vs. State Department

ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball and ACA Research Director Wade Boese “respond”: to State Department spokesman Richard Boucher’s “dismissal”: of an “ACA report”: by Sidney Drell and James Goodby regarding U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces.

Asked about Drell and Goodby’s conclusion that the US can further reduce its nuclear weapons stockpile, Boucher replied:

bq. I know the arms control gurus can debate these numbers all day long. But the fact is the U.S. is meeting its obligations under the treaty. Going down to one-quarter of where we were in the Cold War is pretty impressive and it does certainly show we’re all headed in the right direction, and if we’re going to meet our obligations in that way we think others should meet their obligations, too.

Wade and Daryl offer devastating answers to the administration’s “contention”: that the United States is meeting its Article VI obligations.

FYI the briefing got somewhat more entertaining:

QUESTION: Can I stick with arms control treaties for a second?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. Arms control treaties for 500. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: On CT … on the CTBT, has …

MR. BOUCHER: That’s arms control treaties for 1,000, I’m afraid. (Laughter.)

After All, The Iranians Aren’t F*cking Stupid…

…at least, they’re not _that_ f*cking stupid.

Warren Hoge and David Sanger “write”: in the New York _Times_ “there is considerable concern” that Iran will withdraw from the NPT.

Perhaps. But there’s some evidence that the Iranians realize they’d be painting a target on themselves if they took such a drastic step.

Hassan Rowhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, discussed the matter 11 February before an audience of university students. According to ISNA:

Talking about the legal and political consequences of Iran leaving the NPT, Rowhani said: The consequences will be of a political and legal nature. From a legal point of view any country for the sake of its national security and interests, can leave the NPT providing that it gives 90 days notice to the UN. However, from a political viewpoint, it means that it is preparing to build nuclear bombs.

He added: Americans were trying to prove that Iran was after nuclear bombs and they would have been proved right, if we had left the NPT.

Rowhani stated: Currently we are not in a normal situation. Americans are levelling accusations against us and if we decide to leave the NPT, then Americans will be proved right and the initial outcome of such action will be the referring of our dossier to the UN Security Council.

Indeed, it is worth pointing out that Iran has some less-drastic options. For example, Tehran can:

* Stop adhering to its IAEA additional protocol and revert back to its original safeguards agreement. The additional protocol hasn’t yet been ratified, so Tehran may argue that it’s not doing anyting illegal.

* End the suspension of its enrichment program. Iran’s not legally obligated to continue the suspension and may believe that it will not face strong penalties for doing so.

Obviously, Iran would be violating its November 2004 agreement with the EU3 and could be referred to the UNSC. But Tehran may ultimately risk it, especially if things are bad enough for Iran to contemplate withdrawing from the NPT. If the international community doesn’t think that the Iranians have any _current_ nuclear activities that violate their safeguards agreement, Tehran may emerge relatively unscathed from any UNSC proceedings.

It is, therefore, imperative to convince Iran that it will be better off reaching an agreement with the EU3 than not.

Ukraine Missiles and MTCR

Scott Gearity has a much-appreciated “mention”: of an _Arms Control Today_ “article”: I wrote about Ukraine’s Kh-55 missile exports.

I do, however, wish to correct one small inaccuracy in his description of the piece.

Scott writes:

bq. Ukraine has now admitted violating its commitments under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) by exporting KH-55 air-launched cruise missiles to China and Iran…

I wrote that Ukraine admitted the _transfers_, which

bq. … are apparently contrary to Ukraine’s commitments under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Since 1998, Ukraine has been a member of the 34-member MTCR…

As of that article, I had not seen anything indicating that Ukraine has admitted violating the MTCR. The United States has not taken a position on the matter, as far as I know.