In May 2003, President Bush said the United States would “not tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea” and “will not settle for anything less than the complete, verifiable, and irreversible elimination of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.”
Three years later, North Korea has offered the first “manifest proof” of its nuclear capabilities, and Bush has moved the goal posts. Yesterday, Bush said the US “would hold North Korea fully accountable” if they transferred nuclear material to other states or “non-state entities.” Watch it:
The difference is striking. Back in 2003, the administration was riding high after declaring “mission accomplished” in Iraq. Today, the Iraq war rages on, sapping resources and energy away from other crises around the world.
For six years, the Bush administration has refused to engage in direct talks with North Korea. The country now may possess enough weapons-grade plutonium for as many as 13 nuclear weapons.
BUSH: We will not tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea. We will not give into blackmail. We will not settle for anything less than the complete, verifiable, and irreversible elimination of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. [5/23/03]
BUSH: The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable of the consequences of such action. [10/9/06]