Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Plutonium...Very Interesting

Well, the spy planes have confirmed that North Korea's nuclear test was, in fact, a nuclear event though a sub-kilo one. Atmospheric sampling detected radiological emissions which confirms that the test was a semi-successful nuclear explosion. Even more interesting was that the tests also showed that the bomb was made with plutonium and not uranium. This is an extremely important distinction for those familiar with the basics of nuclear weapons. What this means is that the bomb was made with stuff made before or after Bill Clinton’s term of office.

The New York Times explains:

The intelligence agencies' finding that the weapon was based on plutonium strongly suggested that the country's second path to a nuclear bomb — one using uranium — was not yet ready. [...] As president, Mr. Clinton negotiated a deal that froze the production and weaponization of North Korea's plutonium, but intelligence agencies later determined that North Korea began its secret uranium program under his watch. The plutonium that North Korea exploded was produced, according to intelligence estimates, either during the administration of the first President Bush or after 2003, when the North Koreans threw out international inspectors and began reprocessing spent nuclear fuel the inspectors had kept under seal.

Remember that in 1994 the Clinton administration threatened to destroy North Korea's fuel and nuclear reprocessing facilities if it tried to make weapons with any plutonium it might have had. The Bush administration took no such stand. Because the Bush folks were asleep at the wheel North Korea resumed working with plutonium and voila, we now have another nuclear state. Granted that even under the Agreed Framework negotiated under Clinton/Carter/Albright the North Koreans started a secret uranuium enrichment program but the bombs that these guys have now are the direct result of Bush and company’s failed diplomacy and NOT Bill Clinton's .

This from Fred Kaplan:

On Jan. 10, 2003, they [North Korea] withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty. However, they also said they would reverse their actions and retract their declarations if the United States resumed its obligations under the Agreed Framework and signed a non-aggression pledge.

What explains Bush's inaction before North Korea crossed the red line--and its weak response afterward? Historians will surely debate that question for decades. Part of the answer probably lies in the administration's all-consuming focus on Iraq. [...] In January, a senior administration official told The New York Times, "President Bush does not want to distract international attention from Iraq."

Bottom line? North Korea is a nuclear state because Bush was so busy playing big man in Iraq that he ignored his responsibilities and North Korea and allowed them to become one. End of story.

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