What Really Happened With North Korea?

What Really Happened With North Korea?


John McCain is already piling on Bill Clinton for getting us into the North Korea situation, but Jimmy Carter does remind us of his North Korea timeline.

From the NY Times:

Responding to an invitation from President Kim Il-sung of North Korea, and with the approval of President Bill Clinton, I went to Pyongyang and negotiated an agreement under which North Korea would cease its nuclear program at Yongbyon and permit inspectors from the atomic agency to return to the site to assure that the spent fuel was not reprocessed. It was also agreed that direct talks would be held between the two Koreas.

The spent fuel (estimated to be adequate for a half-dozen bombs) continued to be monitored, and extensive bilateral discussions were held. The United States assured the North Koreans that there would be no military threat to them, that it would supply fuel oil to replace the lost nuclear power and that it would help build two modern atomic power plants, with their fuel rods and operation to be monitored by international inspectors. The summit talks resulted in South Korean President Kim Dae-jung earning the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize for his successful efforts to ease tensions on the peninsula.

But beginning in 2002, the United States branded North Korea as part of an axis of evil, threatened military action, ended the shipments of fuel oil and the construction of nuclear power plants and refused to consider further bilateral talks. In their discussions with me at this time, North Korean spokesmen seemed convinced that the American positions posed a serious danger to their country and to its political regime.

Responding in its ill-advised but predictable way, Pyongyang withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, expelled atomic energy agency inspectors, resumed processing fuel rods and began developing nuclear explosive devices.

Now, obviously a lot of blogs are disputing Carter’s claim, so take a look at this post from Q&O, which points to NoKo’s secret uranium enrichment program that they said dated back to 1995.

The Bush Administration disclosed on October 16, 2002, that North Korea had revealed to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kellyin Pyongyang that it was conducting a secret nuclear weapons program based on the process of uranium enrichment. North Korea admitted the program in response to U.S. evidence presented by Kelly.

The program is based on the process of uranium enrichment, in contrast to North Korea’s pre-1995 nuclear program based on plutonium reprocessing. North Korea began a secret uranium enrichment program after 1995 reportedly with the assistance of Pakistan. North Korea provided Pakistan with intermediate range ballistic missiles in the late1990s. The Central Intelligence Agency issued a statement in December 2002 that North Korea likely could produce an atomic bomb through uranium enrichment in 2004.

Now, does this mean they were maintaining this program after the talks with Carter? We don’t know that. They could have shut it off, and after January of 2002’s Axis of Evil speech, restarted it. And that obviously begs the question…how long does it take to start an enrichment program back up? Well, it apparently depends on multiple factors, and here’s a calculator that shows us what the realities would be. I have no idea how to calculate any of this, but if you do, leave your results below in the comments section.

However, there’s this info from the Center for Defense Information:

An unclassified CIA report from early 2002 reported that “[North Korea] has been seeking centrifuge-related materials in large quantities to support a uranium enrichment program. It also obtained equipment suitable for use in uranium feed and withdrawal systems.”

In the end, will we ever get a realistic, non-partisan timeline that we can point back to? Does anybody know of any that exist out there?

  • stevie
  • Lewis

    What’s the point??? So we all can blame somebody? What good will that do? From what I can tell, we’ve never had a good policy for dealing with NK. If we had one, NK might resemble SK instead of the train wreck it is today.

    But is the current situation really our fault, or is it the result of really poor decisions made by a series of brutal, looneytoon little military dictators?

    If SK can turn out so successful and modern based in part on a relationship with America, why hasn’t NK? I mean, who’s been acting stupid – the US or NK?? Duhhh!

  • jan stone

    Thomas Hartman explained all of this on his program today. I am goint to his site to see if it is online.


  • Smiley

    Beltway 101

    If [Kim Jong Il = “brutal, looneytoon little military dictator”];
    Nand [George Bush = “brutal, looneytoon little military dictator”];
    Then SysDump Democracy and Western Philosophy;
    Go To Spartan Dark Ages

    Lose-lose, if you choose, Neo-Zi’s in November.

  • Lewis

    Oh come on Smiley! Let’s get past the blind hatred for Bush and have an intelligent discussion for a change. It would be refreshing.

    (I’m sort of guessing here as to what you’re cryptic post says)

  • rachel

    The Bush Administration has never dealt in good faith with anybody: not the UN (Powell’s address, pushing faith-based sex education in UN health programs), not the American people (too many instances to count), not the Afghani or Iraqi peoples (social structures and not making sure peace was kept), not even its own suporters (evangelical fundamentalists). And after backstabbing all these other parties, it surprises you that they might not have kept any of their promises to North Korea on top of insulting them at every opportunity?

    Kim Jong Il may be a nutcase, but even he knows better than to trust those clowns in the White House.

  • Lewis

    Rachel- as soon as you said “never … with anybody”, you took all the validity out of you’re post. That’s classic Bush hatred. Just because you don’t agree with much (maybe nothing) that Bush has done, that provides no support or justification for assuming, because you believe it, that ALL American or Afgani or Iraqi people have not been dealt in good faith by Bush.

    An example of just how stupid total Bush hatred makes some people, just look at the economy. Saddled with the internet bubble burst, then 9/11, then 2 wars, then Katrina, then gas prices duing his 6 years in office, how do you explain the robust health of the economy? If you blindly hate Bush and Republicans in general, you can’t give them or their policies any credit at all. So how do you explain it?

    The answer for the simple minded – You point out this is a result of the Clinton legacy, or that the economy is doing well even though Bush and his Republican goons are doing everything possible to try to screw it up, and etc., etc…….

    All the Bush hatred has sucked the air out of the critical thinking skills of a lot of intelligent people who should know better. It’s pathetic. You just can’t have intelligent debates anymore. It’s as amazing as it is destructive.

  • rachel


    Why shouldn’t the wealthy be doing well? Bush is one of them; it’s in his own interest to see to it they get their slice along with him. The rest of society? Here’s a clue for you: my husband and I can’t get health insurance or afford healthcare in the USA, and we both have jobs. Fortunately for us, our jobs are in another country where we can get insurance and healthcare because the government here sets strict price cielings. The rest of our families aren’t doing so great in the “fabulous” Bush economy.

    And FYI, I’m not suffering from “Bush hatred;” I enjoy it. When he was elected I was largely indifferent to him, but since 2002 until I’ve watched him and the others commit folly after folly piled on top of even more folly. Hatred is the only reasonable response.

  • http://dailyfurball.blogspot.com Michael Edelman

    Amazing how quickly the topic shifted from North Korea to “Bush is evil”, isn’t it? Focus, people, or you’re going to lose again in ’08 and still winder why 😉

    Getting back to the topic, PBS News Online- that well-known group of Republican stooges- reported that:

    “The Clinton administration apparently learned of the secret program in late 1998 or early 1999, and by March 2000, President Clinton informed Congress he could no longer certify that “North Korea is not seeking to develop or acquire the capability to enrich uranium.”

    and the New York Times, in the same issue that carried the Carter piece, stated:

    “…But starting around 1997, the North Koreans took steps to start a second, secret nuclear program, one based on enriching uranium…”

    It’s pretty clear from all the sources that North Korea was in violation of the pact even befroe the ink was dry?