Former Secretary of State Colin Powell lauded what is known as the Agreed Framework that the Clinton Administration signed with North Korea. “Lots of nuclear weapons were not made because of the Agreed Framework and the work of President Clinton and his team,” Powell said. Now, conservatives are faulting President Clinton for selling light water reactors to North Korea under the agreement, but in doing so, they overlook Donald Rumsfeld’s role in the deal.
Rumsfeld was the only American to sit on the board of a company which six years ago sold two light water reactors to North Korea. The Guardian reported in May 2003:
Rumsfeld was a non-executive director of ABB, a European engineering giant based in Zurich, when it won a $200m contract to provide the design and key components for the reactors. The current defense secretary sat on the board from 1990 to 2001, earning $190,000 a year.
Rumsfeld has never acknowledged that he knew the company was competing for the nuclear contract. In response to questions about his role in the reactor deal, former Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke told Newsweek in February 2003 that “there was no vote on this” and that her boss “does not recall it being brought before the board at any time.” But an investigation by Fortune magazine revealed that Rumsfeld probably did know:
ABB spokesman Bjoern Edlund told Fortune magazine at the time that “board members were informed about this project.” … “This was a major thing for ABB,” the former director [who sat on the board with Rumsfeld] said, “and extensive political lobbying was done.” The director recalls being told that Rumsfeld was asked “to lobby in Washington” on ABB’s behalf. … Although he couldn’t provide details, Goran Lundberg, who ran ABB’s power-generation business until 1995, says he’s “pretty sure that at some point Don was involved,” since it was not unusual to seek help from board members “when we needed contacts with the U.S. government.”
Rumsfeld has since refused media requests to talk about his role in the light water reactor deal and has instead criticized it.