McCain Covers Up For Bush’s Nuclear Failures

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"McCain Covers Up For Bush’s Nuclear Failures"

Senator John McCain’s claim that Bill Clinton is responsible for North Korea’s nuclear test this week is dead wrong. He should know better.

One more time, here are the facts:

North Korea’s bombs are built with plutonium. They produce their plutonium in a reactor they built during the Reagan presidency, starting around 1984. They separated enough plutonium for perhaps two bombs during the first Bush presidency.

When they tried to make more plutonium under President Bill Clinton, he said he would go to war to stop them. He had plans prepared for the attack. The North Koreans backed down.

Bill Clinton froze the program in its tracks. North Korea did not separate a gram of plutonium while Bill Clinton was in office. He also stopped their missile tests.

George Bush walked away from the deal in his first months in office. In March 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell said he wanted “to continue the process begun under Clinton.” Bush cut him down.

U.S. intelligence had detected signs near the end of the Clinton years that the North Koreans were trying to evade the freeze by beginning a uranium program. When confronted with the evidence in 2002, the North Koreans admitted it and offered to put that program on the table as part of a comprehensive deal. Bush used it as an excuse to walk away from negotiations. He thought he did not need to talk to the North Koreans. He thought he could overthrow the regime.

He failed. He issued threats and drew lines in the sand. The North Koreans walked right past them. They threw out the IAEA inspectors in December 2002, while Bush was preparing to invade Iraq. The month after the invasion, they withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In 2005, they reprocessed plutonium from the fuel rods Clinton had made them keep in pools under IAEA inspection. They took another load of fuel out of the reactor and processed more plutonium. They reloaded the reactor to make even more plutonium. They tested missiles, they made bombs, now they have tested a bomb.

Bush did nothing.

This is Bush’s Bomb. All the plutonium made for these bombs was made either during his presidency or his father’s. To blame his failure on Bill Clinton should not be allowed to stand. Senator McCain should be ashamed.

Joe Cirincione

Note: Joe Cirincione held a teleconference call today with former Defense Secretary William Perry and top U.S. official on North Korea policy Wendy Sherman. Click HERE to listen.

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