Monday, July 16, 2007

Leonor Tomero Rebukes John Bolton on North Korea

In case you missed it, earlier this month the always bombastic John Bolton wrote an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal discussing the North Korea nuclear negotiations. A former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton is now a senior fellow at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, where he joins the ranks of other defamed former Bush administration officials, including the infamous ex-World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz.

On Thursday, Leonor Tomero, Director of Nuclear Non-Proliferation at the Center, published a letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal refuting Bolton’s combative argument.

In his July 3 editorial-page commentary "Pyongyang Pussyfooting," John Bolton lambastes the negotiation process with North Korea as a return to the "Clinton-era... flawed conceptual framework," but offers no viable solution to the North Korean problem. His recommendation to concentrate on the "true solution" of "peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula" and to repudiate the Feb. 13 deal at the first sign of trouble is the same ill-advised approach that allowed North Korea to pursue its nuclear weapon program unchecked since 2002. Mr. Bolton fails to mention the costs of this tried and failed approach: From 2002 to 2006, it is estimated North Korea produced enough material for about 10 nuclear weapons and became the eighth country in the world to test a nuclear weapon.

He also fails to mention the report by International Atomic Energy Agency Deputy director after his visit to North Korea that North Korea has been upgrading its nuclear weapon material-producing facilities since 2002.

Attempting to negotiate in good faith with a country that is hostile to the U.S., as distasteful as this may be to Mr. Bolton, is a process inherent to effective diplomacy; it was used successfully by the Reagan administration with the "Evil Empire" and helped usher an end to the Cold War, and it remains the most effective way to stop Kim Jong Il's nuclear weapons program. Failing to do so will result in significant cost to national security. Negotiating with North Korea and making progress on this difficult issue as the Bush administration is doing does not make North Korea a trustworthy partner; it does, however, provide the opportunity to build the foundation for necessary agreement and verification on stopping and rolling back North Korea's nuclear weapons program that remains a clear and present threat to its neighbors and to the United States.

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