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. Read more