|Left: forbes.com/Right: time.blogs.com|
George W. Bush, retreating to familiar ground, has blamed the Clinton administration for North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. But the official who brokered the Clinton-era deal with North Korea called the idea “ludicrous,” and defended his efforts.
Robert L. Gallucci, the chief negotiator of the accord and now dean of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, said it is a “ludicrous thing” to say that the Clinton agreement failed. For eight years, the Agreed Framework kept North Korea’s five-megawatt plutonium reactor frozen and under international inspection, while North Korea did not build planned 50- and 200-megawatt reactors. If those reactors had been built and running, he said, North Korea would now have enough plutonium for more than 100 nuclear weapons.
By Gallucci’s account, North Korea may have produced a small amount of plutonium for one or two weapons before Clinton came into office—during the administration of Bush’s father—but “no more material was created on his watch.” When Clinton left office, officials saw signs that North Korea may have been attempting to create a clandestine uranium enrichment program, but nothing was definitive.
Such a program would violate the Agreed Framework. When the Bush administration decided it had conclusive proof of that enrichment in July 2002, it confronted North Korea and terminated fuel oil deliveries promised under the Agreed Framework. In response, North Korea evicted the inspectors, restarted the reactor and retrieved weapons-grade plutonium from 8,000 fuel rods that had been kept in a cooling pond. Intelligence analysts now think that, before Monday’s apparent nuclear test, North Korea had enough plutonium for as many as a dozen weapons.