Senior Bush administration officials wanted North Korea to test a nuclear weapon because it would prove their point that the regime must be overthrown.
This astonishing revelation was buried in the middle of a Washington Post story published yesterday. Glenn Kessler reports from Moscow as he accompanies Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:
Before North Korea announced it had detonated a nuclear device, some senior officials even said they were quietly rooting for a test, believing that would finally clarify the debate within the administration.
Until now, no U.S. official in any administration has ever advocated the testing of nuclear weapons by another country, even by allies such as the United Kingdom and France.
One of these officials may have been Rice herself, Kessler hints. Rice, he reports, “has come close to saying the test was a net plus for the United States.” Rice has been trying to counter the prevailing view that the test was a failure of the Bush administration’s policy.
A factual timeline of the North Korean program traces how policies of containment and engagement slowed and stopped the program, while threats of regime change increased the dangers. The two key failures were the choice to focus on overthrowing the government in Pyongyang rather than stopping the nuclear program, and the invasion of Iraq which distracted U.S. attention from the real nuclear dangers and propelled both North Korea and Iran to accelerate their programs.
The revelation that some officials secretly wanted North Korea to test their nuclear weapons is evidence of how the administration’s national security policy has become completely divorced from reality.