Monday, June 30, 2008

Today's Reading Assignment

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, on the "tragic end" of Bush Administration's policy toward North Korea. His opening paragraphs sum it up well:

Maskirovka – the Soviet dark art of denial, deception and disguise – is alive and well in Pyongyang, years after the Soviet Union disappeared. Unfortunately, the Bush administration appears not to have gotten the word.

With much fanfare and choreography, but little substance, the administration has accepted a North Korean "declaration" about its nuclear program that is narrowly limited, incomplete and almost certainly dishonest in material respects. In exchange, President Bush personally declared that North Korea is no longer a state sponsor of terrorism or an enemy of the United States. In a final flourish, North Korea has undertaken a reverse Potemkin Village act, destroying the antiquated cooling tower of the antiquated Yongbyon reactor. In the waning days of American presidencies, this theater is the stuff of legacy.

Read the whole thing, at


section9 said...

I read Bolton. This is a guy who was upset that he didn't get his way, nor did he deserve to.

The North Korean regime won't be around in ten years; that's what Bolton never understood.

Sandy Salt said...

The sad part is that North Korea is playing us like a fiddle for their own purposes. They have nothing, but still get the supposed most powerful nation on earth to kiss their butts.

Andrew Zalotocky said...

There is a more optimistic scenario that would fit the observed facts. It is possible that the apparent failure of the North Korean nuclear test in 2006 could have convinced the regime that it would not be able to produce operational nuclear weapons with the resources at its disposal. The North Korean link to the facility that the Israelis destroyed in Syria could then be explained in two ways. Either they gave up entirely and were trying to sell their equipment and fissile material for hard cash, or they were looking for partners who could make up for their own technical and economic deficiencies. In either case, the Israeli raid would have spoiled their plans.

But the North Koreans would never have publicly admitted to failure. Instead, they would have pretended that their weapons program was still operational in order to use it as a bargaining tool to get some kind of deal with the US that would allow the regime to survive. Even if the US government knew what was going on it might still allow the North Koreans to maintain a face-saving pretence in order to secure a diplomatic breakthrough, or to protect its own intelligence assets.

This is pure speculation and I've no idea if it's true, but it would explain why there hasn't been a second North Korean nuclear test. If they knew how to fix what went wrong, why haven't they proved it? But if it is true, the demolition at Yongbon is just political theatre.

Brian H said...

Are there other cooling towers? They're kind of hard to hide, or at least their output is. Not that I'd put it past NK to devote unlimited effort to achieving that.