History on the hoof: Richardson in North Korea


New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, taking time out from his trailing presidential campaign to try to get remains of American soldiers from North Korea, appears to have won an agreement from North Korea to stop production of nuclear weapons.

1. Praise to the Bush administration for making necessary arrangements on financing.

2. Can we send Richardson to Iraq, Iran, Syria and Palestine? Soon?

More seriously, this is a key bit of history in process. High school teachers woud do well to watch newspapers over the next few days to gather stories which will reveal background from the Korean War, foreign policy history going back at least 30 years, and stories about nuclear proliferation which may come in handy for several years before textbooks can catch up.

Somewhere the ghost of Lloyd Bucher is smiling, I think.

7 Responses to History on the hoof: Richardson in North Korea

  1. […] Bill Richardson doing this week?  Since he’s not on track to be Secretary of Commerce, maybe we could borrow him to establish a pillar of world peace in North Korea, […]

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  2. jd says:

    nice try, Millard. The North Koreans were not just slow in disarming. They were actively seeking nuclear weapons fuel through uranium enrichment, shortly after signing the wonderfully powerful and effective “agreed framework.” They got uranium enrichment technology from Pakistan in 1997 because Pakistan needed cash due to US sanctions. A.Q. Khan, the father of the Pakistani nukes, traveled to North Korea frequently during the 90s. sorry, but the Clintons were either buffaloed or complicit or both. I think your history is tainted by your hatred of Bush.

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  3. Ed Darrell says:

    If Bush chose not to honor an agreement the United States had, he should be impeached for dereliction of duty. Of course, that’s not what happened, exactly. We had — as a nation, and in concert with the United Nations — an agreement that North Korea would stop production of nuclear weapons. They had ceased production. The reactor was closed down, being sealed up, and the rest of the weapons engineering was being closed up as agreed. The U.S.’s role was to provide another nuclear reactor incapable of producing weapons-grade material, to provide electricity for North Korea. There were a few delays on engineering, but as of January 20, 2001, the U.S. continued on that path.

    On January 22, 2001, the new president of the U.S. ordered a slowdown of the U.S.’s side of the agreement and a review of the situation. Noting that this was a breach of the agreement, North Korea asked for clarification, and stopped work on closing the reactor completely. When the Bush administration claimed a breach and announced an end to carrying out the U.S. side of the agreement, North Korea was not declared in breach by any of the other parties. North Korea delayed action for months awaiting a change of mind by Washington, and a resumption of disarmament. Bush ordered the U.S. negotiators to leave the negotiation table.

    Upon that breach of the agreement, North Korea announced plans to fire up weapons production again, especially considering threatening language from Bush. They delayed a few more months, but when the Bush administration continued its sabre-rattling, North Korea finally expelled the UN disarmament monitoring team, and turned off the television monitoring of the dismantling of the reactor.

    North Korea continued to carry out its part of the agreement until long after the Bush administration had breached. Bush had an agreement with North Korea, one he had inherited, but he broke it.

    Only after Bush reneged on the U.S.’s promise did North Korea use resources for nuclear weapons.

    Now, after five years of uncertainty, Richardson’s team has returned us to where we were in 1994. We only lost 13 years of disarmament progress. What did we gain when Bush ordered the breach, or since? Nothing. Don’t blame it on Bill Clinton, nor on Madeleine Albright, nor on Jimmy Carter. They didn’t order the breach of the agreement — George Bush did that.

    Yes, the North Koreans were slower in disarming than we hoped. The U.S. was slower in building than we had promised, too. North Korea was disarming when Bush stopped the process. His adolescent tantrum on the issue made the world a more dangerous place. It’s nice that they appear to have come to their senses in Washington. Peace is better than war. That should have been a no-brainer decision; we may have to redefine “no-brainer.”

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  4. jd says:

    It was the North Koreans who promised the Clinton administration they wouldn’t use the resources for nuclear weapons and then proceeded to do just that. The Bush administration did not have an agreement with the north Koreans

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  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Do I sense a bit of sarcasm?

    Remember that it was the Bush administration that broke the agreement, not North Korea (though, as all sides acknowledged, North Korea was behind schedule on disarming; they were disarming, and monitors were in place to make sure it happened).

    And remember that the North Koreans have dealt with Richardson before, and that the Bush administration has used Richardson because the North Koreans appear to trust him and will sign agreements that he okays. Here’s a story from the China Post.

    The moratorium would have been a lasting one, for all we know, had the U.S. not backed out of the deal. 13 years later, we’re where we were the first time Richardson visited the country. He has managed to restore the agreement. With the history, it’s not the North Koreans we need to worry about on this.

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  6. jd says:

    I’m sure that he will be just as successful as Madeleine Albright, Jimmy Carter and the Clinton administration. We are so thankful to them for their hard work in negotiating a lasting moratorium on nuclear weapons production.

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