Someone Set Up Us The Bomb

This New York Times article on North Korea nuclear program intelligence is a masterpiece of reporting but written in such a way as to obscure the significance of the scoop. I’m going to try bullet points:

  • The 1994 Agreed Framework froze the DPRK efforts to build a nuclear weapon using plutonium.
  • In 2002, the Bush administration pulled out of the Agreed Framework, arguing that the DPRK was cheating by running a secret parallel uranium program.
  • In the intervening years, the DPRK has succeeded in using its now-unfrozen plutonium program to build some bombs.
  • They have not, however, had any success in building uranium bombs.
  • This looked like pretty shitty policymaking for the Bush administration.
  • It looks much worse, however, after we learn today that the uranium program may never have existed.

The odds look decent, in other words, that the administration effectively let the DPRK build nuclear weapons for absolutely no reason at all other than its generally bad attitude toward diplomatic agreements and “stuff Bill Clinton did.”