The Bush administration is backing away from its long-held assertions that North Korea has an active clandestine program to enrich uranium, leading some experts to believe that the original U.S. intelligence that started the crisis over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions may have been flawed.... The administration's stance today stands in sharp contrast to the certainty expressed by top officials in 2002, when the administration accused Pyongyang of running a secret uranium program -- and demanded it be dismantled at once.... In 2002, the United States led a drive to suspend shipments of fuel oil promised to Pyongyang under a 1994 accord that froze a North Korean plutonium facility. The collapse of the 1994 agreement freed North Korea to build up a stockpile of plutonium for as many as a dozen nuclear weapons.Um, yeah, and that 1994 accord was President Clinton's work; thanks to GW et al, its trashing has led to NK's nuke build-up. Chalk up another victory for the current presiding nincompoops.
Now they're scurrying for cover. They cry "foul!" with not much to go on, but then back off when real proof is about to be known.
“The question now is whether we would be in the position of having to get the North Koreans to give up a sizable arsenal if this had been handled differently,” a senior administration official said this week.
The disclosure underscores broader questions about the ability of intelligence agencies to discern the precise status of foreign weapons programs. The original assessment about North Korea came during the same period that the administration was building its case about Iraq’s unconventional weapons programs, which turned out to be based on flawed intelligence. And the new North Korea assessment comes amid debate over intelligence about Iran’s weapons.
“The administration appears to have made a very costly decision that has resulted in a fourfold increase in the nuclear weapons of North Korea,” Senator Reed said in an interview on Wednesday. “If that was based in part on mixing up North Korea’s ambitions with their accomplishments, it’s important.”
It is unclear why the new assessment is being disclosed now. But some officials suggested that the timing could be linked to North Korea’s recent agreement to reopen its doors to international arms inspectors. As a result, these officials have said, the intelligence agencies are facing the possibility that their assessments will once again be compared to what is actually found on the ground. “This may be preventative,” one American diplomat said.
Is it any wonder their credibility is near zero?