May 4, 2003

The black hole of Asia  

This is reassuring. The Bush people have apparently given up on negotiating with the North Koreans, in favor of a policy of preventing exports of nuclear weapons and technology. The catch:

Mr Bush's approach is a major gamble one that depends on superb intelligence about North Korea's efforts to sell its weapons. So far, though, the nuclear program has been what one American intelligence official calls "the black hole of Asia."

American officials have apparently been unable to find new facilities they believe North Korea is building - presumably underground - to produce highly enriched uranium, a technology obtained largely from Pakistan in a trade for missiles.

I'm not really surprised that they've given up on negotiating, considering they're not willing to give up anything the DPRK wants. But isn't this kind of a non-policy? We haven't exactly been shy about tracking North Korean weapons exports in the past, and they've still managed to make sales right under our noses. If we rely on the Japanese (who just sent up a spy satellite a couple weeks ago) and the South Koreans, won't that just lead to a cold war in East Asia?

MORE: Fred Kaplan tries to game the Bush administration.

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