Thursday, April 24, 2008

Plutonium on the Euphrates

The Wall Street Journal weighs in on the nuclear partnership between Syria and North Korea, disrupted by that Israeli air strike last year.

What worries the Journal editorial board is the same thing that's bugging us: despite Pyongyang's obvious attempt to export its nuclear program, the Bush Administration is willing to forgive and forget, in an effort to sustain the Six Party Talks. As the WSJ observes:

The State Department has already given up on holding North Korea to its promise to disclose all of its nuclear activities. But now it appears that Foggy Bottom and President Bush are prepared to forgive North Korea for telling what the U.S. now agrees were lies about the North's nuclear proliferation to a Middle Eastern autocrat who is an enemy of America. At the same time, Bush Administration officials are saying that it is good policy to trust Kim Jong Il's declarations on his stockpiles of plutonium.

So: Israel had to risk war with Syria to destroy a nuclear facility built with the help of lying North Koreans. But no worries, the U.S. says it can still trust North Korea to tell the truth about its current programs. This makes us wonder if the unofficial U.S. nonproliferation policy is to have Israel bomb every plutonium facility that the North Koreans decide to sell.

The Journal's editorial concludes with a warning for Mr. Bush: beware of diplomats dangling legacies. Pursuing the current policy towards North Korea, President Bush's legacy may not be the one he seeks.

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