When the Agreed Framework - the 1994 debacle in which we pledged to build two nuclear reactors in northern Korea if Kim Jong-il stopped his nuclear-weapons program - fell apart amidst the revelation that Kim had a uranium-weapons program on the side, The U.S. and its allies (Japan and South Korea) demanded three things: a shut down of all nuclear weapons activities, disclosure of said activities in complete detail, and a complete account of the kidnapping of Japanese citizens by Stalinist agents in the 1970s and early 1980s. The Kim regime responded by demanding to be taken off the list of terrorist-sponsoring states and full diplomatic relations.
Since 2002, the Stalinist regime has produced weapons-grade plutonium, launched several missile tests, conducted a nuclear test, provided help for fellow tyrant Bashar Assad to develop his own nuclear-weapons program (again, wiped out by the Israeli Air Force, we think), and possibly even helped the Iranian mullahs become a nuclear power.
What was the result of these brazen actions?
Well, last February, the Stalinists won a resumption of the fuel oil that was part of the 1994 deal, talks on full diplomatic relations, in exchange for shutting down a nuclear reactor and plutonium producer that was on its last legs anyway. Within months, they even managed to wring $25 million in "earnings" from counterfeiting and other illegal activities from a desperate Bush Administration.
The uranium, the plutonium already produced/weaponized/stored, and the abduction issues were placed aside for future discussions. Those future discussions ended with this month's debacle.
How bad was it? Check out the Post's description (link above, emphasis added):
The United States is prepared to lift two key economic sanctions against North Korea under a tentative deal reached with that country this week, which requires Pyongyang to acknowledge U.S. concerns and evidence about a range of nuclear activities, U.S. and Asian diplomats said yesterday.
The agreement also requires North Korea to finish disabling its main nuclear facility and provide a full accounting of its stockpile of plutonium. But, in a key shift, the two sides agreed to sidestep a dispute over how much detail North Korea must provide about any past uranium enrichment-related activities and its involvement in a mysterious Syrian facility bombed by Israel last September.
North Korea had balked at confirming the Bush administration's allegations, stalling for months a process designed to eliminate its nuclear programs. But after negotiations this week in Singapore and last month in Geneva, the United States and North Korea agreed that Pyongyang must "acknowledge" the allegations without precisely admitting them publicly.
That paves the way, diplomats said, for President Bush to remove North Korea from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and to exempt it from the Trading With the Enemy Act.
In other words, the Stalinists get the last thing they hadn't won yet - being taken off the terrorist list - in exchange for absolutely nothing. They don't have to divulge any information about their uranium efforts or their aid to Bashar Assad. They don't have to hand over any plutonium (notice the Administration only asked for "a full accounting").
Abductions? What abductions? it takes eleven paragraphs for the Japanese victims to even be mentioned. While normally, one would look to the Post for blame, in this case an Administration that actually cared about their fate would have ensured resolution on this issue before any deal was accepted.
To sum up the last five-plus years: the North Korean regime broke its word, then continued to act badly and add to the list of American demands, held out until the Americans turned them into suggestions, then held out more until it got everything it wanted (including the benefits of the aforementioned bad actions) in exchange for window dressing that amount to no substantive concessions on its part whatsoever - and it did all of this to the supposedly tough-minded, neo-conservative riddled, unilateralist "cowboy" President.
You don't think Iran has been watching all of this, taking copious notes at every turn? How about the Taliban and al Qaeda? Did anyone really think this appalling weakness would go unnoticed?
History will record this as the greatest failure of the Bush Administration. It may very well overshadow all the good it has done in Afghanistan and tried to do (and - I would opine, slowly doing) in Iraq. It is that bad.
Every terrorist and tyrant - most especially Communist China, colonial master to Kim Jong-il and friend to tyrants and terrorists everywhere - now knows the United States can be worn out, worn down, and defeated at the bargaining table. This is a dark day for America and the free world. We all have become far less safe.
Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal