Republicans Make Desperate Attempt To Blame Clinton Administration For Policy Failures On North Korea

Washington, D.C. -- The Council for a Livable World today described Republican efforts to lay the blame for the growing threat from North Korea’s nuclear weapon program on the Clinton Administration as a “desperate maneuver by a failed Administration.� Since President George W. Bush took office in 2001, the threat of North Korea’s nuclear weapon program has increased significantly for the United States and US allies in the Northeast Asian region.

John Isaacs, President of the Council for a Livable World, noted “Republicans are trying to blame everything from North Korea to the Mark Foley scandal on Democrats, and that just won't work.�

He added “Even if one accepts that the Clinton Administration had mixed success on North Korea, the Bush Administration has had almost six years to get it right and instead has made it worse.�

Leonor Tomero, an analyst at the Council for a Livable World stated “The Administration has spent six years focusing on the seating arrangement for negotiations rather than seriously tackling the urgent problem. It has wasted important opportunities by first refusing to talk to North Korea directly and then complicating negotiations by adding unrealistic conditions. Meanwhile North Korea has produced more nuclear material and tested a nuclear weapon. The result has been an acceleration of North Korea’s program in comparison to Clinton-era efforts that significantly delayed North Korea’s program by stopping the production of plutonium.�

Isaacs added “While the Bush Administration has been pre-occupied in Iraq, Kim Jong Il’s government has withdrawn from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, announced that it has nuclear weapons, refused to return to six nation talks, launched seven missiles into the Sea of Japan, including a long range Taepodong-2, conducted its first ever nuclear test, and has stated its willingness to transfer bomb-grade material or nuclear weapons to terrorists or countries hostile to the United States.�

It is believed that in 2000 North Korea had enough material for 1-2 nuclear weapons, whereas the latest estimates place North Korea’s current weapon capability at about 10 nuclear weapons. North Korea produces enough material for about one bomb per year from its 5 MW reactor, and announced last year that it would resume the construction of the 50 MW and 200 MW reactors which had been frozen under the 1994 Agreed Framework and which could result in North Korea producing enough material annually for 50 nuclear weapons.