Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Bush Administration to Blame for North Korean Nukes? The 2002 Intelligence Botch

Posted by K.E. White on March 7, 2007

Did the Bush administration push North Korea to build their nuclear weapons program in 2002?


In October 2002, talks between North Korean and America stopped. Why? The Bush administration had evidence that North Korea was pursuing an uranium enrichment program.

The Bush administration then shut down the talks, deeming North Korea unreliable (not really surprising anyone).

And what did the policy bring about? A nuclear surprise from North Korea surprising last year.

Yes–it was clear the whole silent treatment didn’t work. But, as administration supporters will undoubtedly aver, North Korea was set on building a nuclear weapons program. And they’d point to North Korea’s 2002 highly enriched uranium program as proof.
But what if North Korea never was pursuing that enrichment program? What if the Bush administration actually shut down talks for a false reason, thereby sending North Korea the following message: ‘We’re done talking; you’re on the axis of evil; be sure to watch what happens Iraq.’

Boy, that would have been a diplomatic misstep of enormous proportions.

And it might just be true.

North Korea did not help things by pleading guilty to the U.S. allegation. Yet, as Voice of America reports, North Korean officials might have done this merely to keep the talks going. Alas, the strategy did not work.

And now American officials are backtracking from there earlier intelligence claim:

Joseph DeTrani…the main U.S. intelligence official dealing with North Korea, Joseph DeTrani, told the U.S. senate that Washington’s confidence in the existence of a North Korean HEU program has decreased since 2002.

“The assessment was with high confidence that indeed, they [North Korea] were making acquisitions necessary for, if you will, a production-scale [uranium] program,” he said. “And we still have confidence the program is in existence, at the mid-confidence level.”

South Korea, too, believes the North has been working on an HEU program, but it, too, has no evidence that such a program is advanced. Last month, ending years of official silence on the issue, the South’s chief nuclear negotiator, Chun Yung-woo, provided Seoul’s first public assessment of the situation.

“We do not have full information where the program itself stands now.” Chun said. “Nobody seems to believe that they have an enrichment plant up and running, but I cannot tell you how far North Korea’s enrichment program has evolved.”

It seems the Bush administration created their own North Korean nuclear crisis.

Faulty intelligence leading America into a diplomatic crisis?

Say it ain’t so.

2 Responses to “Bush Administration to Blame for North Korean Nukes? The 2002 Intelligence Botch”

  1. Don said

    Mr. Bush,

    Is a failure of common sence. The man who holds the power of the world shouldbe estute andpolished, not a fool.

    Sad days for the USA.


  2. […] Proliferation Press: Bush Administration to Blame for North Korean Nukes? The 2002 Intelligence Botc… […]

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