July 22, 2003

NoKo Watch So do we

NoKo Watch

So do we have a N. Korea policy or don't we? If you read Dave Sanger's piece over at the NYT you come away thinking we are basically rudderless and asleep at the switch on NoKo policy:

"President Bush appeared today to shrug off evidence that North Korea may have begun producing plutonium at a second, hidden nuclear facility, and avoided any hint of confrontation with the country as it races to expand its nuclear arsenal."

But then there is a WaPo piece that seems to have dug deeper:

"In extensive talks last week with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo, administration officials asked him to inform the North Koreans that the United States would agree to meet again with Chinese and North Korean officials in Beijing, provided the session was followed almost immediately by multilateral talks that include South Korea, Japan and possibly Russia, U.S. officials said yesterday.

Administration officials said that at this broader multilateral meeting, they would formally unveil a U.S. plan for ending the crisis, which has prompted intense discussion within senior levels of the administration about the form of the proposal and how it would be presented."

Appears the Post might have scooped the NYT here. More interestingly, the WaPo piece casts doubt on an earlier NYT scoop from a few days back:

"Senior U.S. officials, meanwhile, yesterday cast doubt on a report over the weekend that the United States had evidence that North Korea might have a second, secret facility to reprocess spent fuel rods. U.S. officials have long speculated North Korea might have built a second facility underground, but they said no new evidence of such a project had emerged.

Two officials said the report, which was first published in the New York Times, appears to have started with information South Korea received from North Korean agents, and officials viewed it as part of a series of North Korean provocations. There are indications of activity having started at the Yongbyon reprocessing plant 55 miles north of the North Korean capital, but so far there is "no indication that anything of significance has emerged at the other end," according to a senior administration official familiar with the intelligence."

So the question is, are we doing an Iraq in reverse, ie. are we downplaying rather than aggressively analyzing intelligence? Or did the S. Koreans get fed misinformation by the North and then, in turn, feed it to Dave Sanger and the NYT?

Posted by Gregory at July 22, 2003 11:17 AM
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