North Korea Confusion

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Apparently, there is some confusion about whether Clinton's policy against North Korea worked.

It was a categorical failure.

It is true that the primary nuclear weapons facility at Yongbyon was shut down from 1994 to 2002 because of the Clinton agreements with North Korea. However, that's about all that was shut down. North Korea continued to violate the agreements with its work on missile technology and uranium enrichment, including, by all indications, importing nuclear encrichment centrifuges from Pakistan. And this was long before Bush's "Axis of Evil" speech.

North Korea continued working on its nuclear and missile programs, violating its agreements, before Bush even took office. It continued to get closer to being able to enrich uranium. It continued to get closer to being able to attack the U.S. with a missile.

It's true that after North Korea reopened Yongbyon in 2002, the process accelerated. But the process was able to accelerate as much as it did because of the advancements it had made in the intervening years. If North Korea had actually been abiding by its agreements, we would not be where we are right now.

And that's not even taking into account the fact that North Korea unilaterally pulled out of the agreement in 2002, without any actual provocation or change in policy by the U.S. We were still honoring the existing agreements. The "Bush failed" line asks us to believe that the only reason North Korea backed out of the agreement was because Bush said they were part of the "Axis of Evil." Not even Kim Jong Il is that thin-skinned. Clinton's policy is actually what brought us to the reopening of Yongbyon.

I don't blame Clinton. He tried, he failed. It happens. I do blame people who today want to return to this terribly failed policy. Following the Clinton policy today would mean that Yongbyon would be shut down, in return for more technology and aid, only to allow North Korea to continue its nuclear programs, and to reopen Yongbyon as soon as North Korea simply felt like it. Does that make you feel safer?

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"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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