Monthly Archives: February 2007

Tony Snow Ain’t No Lawyer…

…even if he does play a “mean jazz flute.”:

About a week or so ago, Snow “falsely asserted”: that someone in the administration broke the law by leaking the shocking news that some in the administration (meaning Elliott Abrams) don’t like the “new deal”: with North Korea.

Snow argued that, despite the _WP_’s “report”: that Abrams sent some emails around expressing his displeasure with the agreement, Elliott A actually supports it.

A reporter then asked, “why do his emails — his inquiries, wind up in the newspaper, then?”

TSnow replied:”Because somebody broke the law.*”

Now, that asterisk is indeed found in the original transcript. If you scroll to the bottom, you find this clarification:

bq. The Press Secretary was in error. This instance was not a violation of the law.



Snow has too much in common with this guy, though I doubt he has as many leather-bound books.

[Snow, FYI, talked about the Abrams issue “the day before as well].”:

Also of note: Newsweek had “a piece”: which speaks to the question of hardliners’ influence on the North Korea:

bq. Administration hard-liners appear to have been unable to thwart diplomacy. Former officials close to Vice President Dick Cheney, who asked not to be identified characterizing his views, suggest he does not like the deal but believes there are enough get-out clauses to ensure either that Pyongyang complies or the whole bargain collapses. *Cheney had long influenced North Korea policy through powerful bureaucratic allies who battled what they viewed as State Department appeasers. But Bolton, a leading hawk on North Korea, left the administration when Congress refused to confirm him as permanent U.N. ambassador. Robert Joseph, another key hard-liner, is soon to leave his job as State Department under secretary for arms control.* Cheney himself may be the last hard-liner. But White House aides, along with the veep’s allies (anonymous when discussing the men’s relationship), acknowledge that Bush relies far less on Cheney’s judgment now than he did earlier in his presidency.

Six Party Talks Working Groups

Maybe everyone else already knows this, but I thought I’d pass it on. A spokesperson for “China’s MFA”: specified the countries that are to head up the working groups described in the “recent joint statement:”:

bq. On the question of Working Groups, the parties concerned agreed that China would head the Working Group on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the ROK the Working Group of Economic and Energy Cooperation and Russia the Working Group on Northeast Asia Peace and Security Mechanism. The Working Groups on the Normalization of DPRK-US Relations and DPRK-Japan Relations will be undertaken by these countries involved respectively. The six parties agreed to launch all the working groups within 30 days. Further discussion has to be made on operation, membership and venue of the WGs.

North Korea and “Disablement”

Jeffrey has “a post”: about the recent North Korea “nuclear agreement’s”: use of the term “disablement.”

As you’ll recall, the joint statement says that the next phase of the denuclearization process is to include

bq. …provision by the DPRK of a complete declaration of all nuclear programs and disablement of all existing nuclear facilities…

I’m sure the term could well be deliberately vague, but given how much time has been spent finding suitable diplomatic language for this thing (you might recall that North Korea “objected”: to the term “CVID”), I would be surprised if the word meant nothing at all in Korean. But I dunno.

Anyway, RIA Novosti “provided a clue”: regarding the term’s meaning the day before the joint statement:

bq. North Korea is ready to remove graphite rods from its nuclear reactor in Yongbyon in exchange for greater energy assistance, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported Monday.

Interestingly, former Clinton NSC official Gary Samore “said about a week before”: that

bq. Ideally, he [Chris Hill] would convince the North Koreans to take some step *_to disable_* the five-megawatt reactor so it couldn’t quickly be turned back on to resume production of plutonium.

Makes me wonder how long the “disablement” idea has been around.

India, Pakistan, Iran: The Nobitorium

At a recent ACA event, Matthew Bunn “discussed”: the possible lessons that India’s experience with its nuclear arsenal has taught Iran:

bq. …some of my Iranian colleagues—I’ve been making an effort to try to understand what is going on in Tehran, although with limited success—have told me that in Tehran the *nuclear hardliners are pointing to India and saying basically, look what happened to them, they tested, everybody in the whole world sanctioned them, and then six months later Clinton was crawling back and saying, please be our friend, et cetera. Now, they’re getting this nuclear deal.* The hardliners are using that as an argument that while there may be sanctions now, if we just move forward, eventually the world will roll over and acquiesce to what we’re doing. That’s a plausible argument. That’s not obvious to me that they’re wrong given the huge pool of oil and gas that Iran is sitting on.

Plausible, indeed.

Interestingly, Hassan Rowhani (Iran’s head nuclear negotiator at the time) argued in a 2004 speech that Pakistan and Brazil’s nuclear programs show that the international community will accept nuclear programs once they are established:

bq. As for the question of what we can do now that they all disagree with our having the fuel cycle, I submit to you that we require an opportunity, time to be able to act on our capability in this area. That is, if one day we are able to complete the fuel cycle and the world sees that it has no choice, that we do possess the technology, then the situation will be different. *The world did not want Pakistan to have an atomic bomb or Brazil to have the fuel cycle, but Pakistan built its bomb and Brazil has its fuel cycle, and the world started to work with them.* Our problem is that we have not achieved either one, but we are standing at the threshold.

To be fair, the next sentence says that Iran is not pursuing a nuke:

bq. As for building the atomic bomb, we never wanted to move in that direction and we have not yet completely developed our fuel cycle capability. This also happens to be our main problem.

I actually think that there are reasons to believe that Iran might currently be in a bit more of a mood to bargain. But that’s for another post. In any case, one can understand why other countries may have gotten the idea that waiting out UNSC nuclear-related sanctions might be a viable strategy.

See, for example, “Resolution 1172,”: which the UNSC adopted following India and Pakistan’s 1998 nuclear weapons tests.

Zia Mian talked about it at an “ACA event”: back in November. Members of the international community should keep his words in mind as they consider the atrocity known as the US-India nuclear deal:

[The resolution] outlined a series of demands on both countries, and I’ll just say what they were.

One was that India and Pakistan should stop the further development of nuclear weapons, that they should not deploy their nuclear weapons, that they should stop developing ballistic missiles, and that they should stop producing fissile materials for nuclear weapons. There also were some others.

Now, since 1998 and this unanimous resolution from the Security Council, we have seen benign neglect—actually, I think “benign” is not the appropriate word—appalling irresponsibility by the Security Council and its members that they have basically forgotten that they ever passed this resolution because India and Pakistan have continued to do all the things they were told they should not do. With this deal, the United States is now saying that that resolution may as well never have been passed because no longer is it interested in saying that India and Pakistan must not produce fissile material for nuclear weapons; it’s saying if you do, that’s your business; it has nothing to do with us.

What does that mean now for future Security Council resolutions, unanimous or otherwise, that says you must do this? What it says is that as time passes, as interests change, who knows what the status of that resolution may be, that perhaps you shouldn’t take them very seriously at all in the future. I find that deeply troubling considering we’re dealing with nuclear weapons.

Here are two of the key paragraphs from the resolution:

7. Calls upon India and Pakistan immediately to stop their nuclear weapon development programmes, to refrain from weaponization or from the deployment of nuclear weapons, to cease development of ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and any further production of missile material for nuclear weapons, to confirm their policies not to export equipment, materials or technology that could contribute to weapons of mass destruction or missiles capable of delivering them and to undertake appropriate commitments in that regard;

8. Encourages all States to prevent the export of equipment, materials or technology that could in any way assist programmes in India or Pakistan for nuclear weapons or for ballistic missiles capable of delivering such weapons, and welcomes national policies adopted and declared in this respect;

I have “argued before”: that the US-India deal makes a mockery of that second paragraph.

[Credit to “S Heidt”: for the title.]

*Update*: For anyone who cares, this post has been rewritten, but not in a way that changes its substance.

Russia and INF

As someone who thinks that strategic nuclear issues don’t get enough attention, I was glad to see “Jane raise the issue”: of Russia’s position vis a vis the “INF Treaty”:

Anyway, ACA issued a “press release”: about the issue:

“The White House and congressional leaders should urge Russia not to abandon the INF Treaty,” Kimball recommended. He also encouraged the U.S. and Russian governments to “engage in talks to accelerate the drawdown of their strategic nuclear weapons and to account for and eliminate their tactical nuclear weapons arsenals.” The size and security of Russia’s tactical nuclear arms holdings are unknown, while the United States deploys roughly 480 tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.

In addition, the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) is set to expire in December 2009. If START lapses and Russia scuttles the INF Treaty, the sole agreement left to restrict U.S. and Russian nuclear force levels would be the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty. This agreement lacks verification provisions and its ceiling of 2,200 operationally deployed strategic warheads expires in December 2012. The United States currently claims to operationally deploy approximately 3,900 strategic warheads, and it keeps thousands of additional warheads in reserve. Russia fields some 4,300 strategic warheads, according to its latest accounting under START.

“Without the transparency and limits of the START and INF accords, the United States and Russia risk returning to the distrust, worst-case assumptions, and arms competition of the past,” warned Wade Boese, ACA research director.

“Russia’s overreaction to the possible fielding of up to 10 unproven U.S. missile interceptors already underscores the fragile state of U.S.-Russian security relations,” Boese stated.

He recommended that in addition to talks on extending START or its verification regime, “the former rivals should explore measures to address Russian concerns about any future stationing of U.S. anti-missile systems in Europe.” Boese concluded, “Such a process would be a much more constructive approach than carelessly scrapping the INF Treaty.”

KCNA on Six-Party Statement

From 13 February, the key portions:

The talks that proceeded in a sincere atmosphere discussed the ways of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

At the talks the parties decided to offer economic and energy aid equivalent to one million tons of heavy fuel oil in connection with the DPRK’s [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s] temporary suspension of the operation of its nuclear facilities.

And the DPRK and the United States agreed to solve their pending issues and kick off the bilateral talks aimed at opening full diplomatic ties.

At the just-concluded talks the parties agreed to have the sixth round of the six-party talks in the future.

Six-Party Joint Statement

Here are some excerpts from the Initial Actions for the Implementation of the Joint Statement. The full text can be found “here.”:

Any of this “sound familiar ?”:

Credit to the administration for agreeing to this. Just remember that we almost certainly could have gotten this deal before the North Koreans tested a missile and a nuke.

In a way, I agree with “this statement”: from John Bolton:

bq. This is the same thing that the State Department was prepared to do six years ago. If we going to cut this deal now, it’s amazing we didn’t cut it back then.

But anyway…

II. The Parties agreed to take the following actions in parallel in the initial phase:

1. The DPRK will shut down and seal for the purpose of eventual abandonment the Yongbyon nuclear facility, including the reprocessing facility and invite back IAEA personnel to conduct all necessary monitoring and verifications as agreed between IAEA and the DPRK.

2. The DPRK will discuss with other parties a list of all its nuclear programs as described in the Joint Statement, including plutonium extracted from used fuel rods, that would be abandoned pursuant to the Joint Statement.

3. The DPRK and the US will start bilateral talks aimed at resolving pending bilateral issues and moving toward full diplomatic relations. The US will begin the process of removing the designation of the DPRK as a state-sponsor of terrorism and advance the process of terminating the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act with respect to the DPRK.

4. The DPRK and Japan will start bilateral talks aimed at taking steps to normalize their relations in accordance with the Pyongyang Declaration, on the basis of the settlement of unfortunate past and the outstanding issues of concern.

5. Recalling Section 1 and 3 of the Joint Statement of 19 September 2005, the Parties agreed to cooperate in economic, energy and humanitarian assistance to the DPRK. In this regard, the Parties agreed to the provision of emergency energy assistance to the DPRK in the initial phase. The initial shipment of emergency energy assistance equivalent to 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil (HFO) will commence within next 60 days.

The Parties agreed that the above-mentioned initial actions will be implemented within next 60 days and that they will take coordinated steps toward this goal.

III. The Parties agreed on the establishment of the following Working Groups (WG) in order to carry out the initial actions and for the purpose of full implementation of the Joint Statement:

1. Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

2. Normalization of DPRK-US relations

3. Normalization of DPRK-Japan relations

4. Economy and Energy Cooperation

5. Northeast Asia Peace and Security Mechanism

The WGs will discuss and formulate specific plans for the implementation of the Joint Statement in their respective areas. The WGs shall report to the Six-Party Heads of Delegation Meeting on the progress of their work. In principle, progress in one WG shall not affect progress in other WGs. Plans made by the five WGs will be implemented as a whole in a coordinated manner.

The Parties agreed that all WGs will meet within next 30 days.

IV. During the period of the Initial Actions phase and the next phase, which includes provision by the DPRK of a complete declaration of all nuclear programs and disablement of all existing nuclear facilities, including graphite-moderated reactors and reprocessing plant, economic, energy and humanitarian assistance up to the equivalent of 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil (HFO), including the initial shipment equivalent to 50,000 tons of HFO, will be provided to the DPRK.

The detailed modalities of the said assistance will be determined through consultations and appropriate assessments in the Working Group on Economic and Energy Cooperation.


VII. The Parties agreed to hold the Sixth Round of the Six-Party Talks on 19 March 2007 to hear reports of WGs and discuss on actions for the next phase.

Here’s a “possible indication”: regarding the merits of this plan:

BOLTON: This is a very bad deal. And I’m hoping that the president has not been fully briefed on it and he still has time to reject it.

It’s bad for two reasons. First, it contradicts fundamental premises of the president’s policy he’s been following for the past six years. And second, it makes the administration look very weak at a time in Iraq and dealing with Iran it needs to look strong. So I hope with few hours yet to go the president might yet reject it.


ACA “press release here.”: