2003 May 23 Friday
State Department Hid North Korean Nuclear Announcement?

If the editors of the Washington Times are correct the US State Department attempted to keep the White House from learning that the North Korean government said it had started reprocessing plutonium.

On March 31, representatives of the North Korean government told State Department officials, for the first time, that they were reprocessing plutonium, a key step in developing nuclear weapons. The Pentagon and the White House did not learn of this stunning announcement until Pyongyang told them during previously scheduled talks with North Korea in China on April 18.

Is this story true? Writing in the National Review on May 7, 2003 Joel Mowbray made the same claim.

When State Department officials learned and subsequently hid from the rest of the administration that North Korea had started reprocessing plutonium, Haass was one of the select few with the inside scoop. In a March 31 meeting with two State Department officials in New York City, North Korean officials told the U.S. for the first time that they had begun reprocessing yet that information was not given to the Department of Defense or even the White House. It wasn't until almost three weeks later, on April 18, when North Korea announced this publicly that the Pentagon and the White House learned of the startling revelation. Although it is not clear what role Haass played in shielding this vital information, an administration official notes that the policy-planning director knew of North Korea's admission.

Many in the State Department favor negotiations and a less confrontational approach toward North Korea and so the argument goes that the State Department is holding back any information that would be used by more hawkish elements in the Bush Administation to support their arguments for hard line toward North Korea.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 May 23 01:10 PM  Politics Grand Strategy


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