Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
CIA ID'd North Korean Uranium Plant in 2002, Rice Says
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in her new memoir states that senior Bush administration officials were told by the CIA in 2002 that North Korea had constructed a sizable uranium enrichment plant -- eight years before Pyongyang declared such activities to the world, Foreign Policy reported on Tuesday (see GSN, Jan. 24).
In her upcoming book, "No Higher Honor," Rice said the administration learned in September 2002 of the "production scale" uranium plant. One month lather, Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly challenged North Korean officials with the information during a visit to the isolated state.
However, any prospects for a deal to shutter the facility were lost when "hardliners" inside the Defense Department and then-Vice President Dick Cheney's office gave the press the story with the intention of undermining future bargaining deals with Pyongyang, Rice asserted.
The Bush administration said a North Korean official acknowledged the uranium work in the meeting with Kelly, but Pyongyang publicly rejected that assertion (see GSN, Feb. 18, 2004). Uranium enrichment could give the North a second route to producing nuclear-weapon material, alongside its known plutonium efforts.
Cheney in his own recently published memoir characterized Rice as being unreasonably optimistic about the prospects of reaching a deal to permanently end the North's nuclear-weapon activities (see GSN, Aug. 25).
North Korea publicly acknowledged its uranium enrichment activities for the first time in November 2010. It insists the uranium plant at Yongbyon is focused on producing nuclear plant fuel, but the United States and other regional nations are deeply skeptical of this claim. Washington and Seoul are demanding that all uranium work come to a halt before they will return to a frozen multinational process focused on irreversible North Korean denuclearization (see GSN, Oct. 25).
The Bush administration considered conducting a limited military strike in Iraq nearly a year ahead of the March 2003 invasion, according to Rice's book. Top officials in spring 2002 hoped to eliminate a suspected biological weapons facility believed to be operated by al-Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq's northern Kurdish region. Cheney and then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pushed for the strike, while Rice as national security adviser and Secretary of State Colin Powell argued against the move, the book says. President Bush ultimately chose against the early attack.
Rice also disclosed details of a biological attack scare at the White House toward the end of 2001. Rice, Bush, and Powell were in Shanghai when they were notified by Cheney that they might have come into contact with lethal botulinum toxin that had been detected by a sensor at the White House. Three officials spent a single tense day waiting for the detected biological agent to be tested on mice. Results came back negative and the mice did not die.
Nov. 27, 2012
Several U.S. bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements are set to expire in the next four years, and a long list of nuclear newcomers are interested in concluding new agreements with the United States. Jessica C. Varnum examines the debate over whether stricter nonproliferation preconditions for concluding these new and renewal "123" nuclear cooperation agreements with the United States would enhance or undermine their value as instruments of U.S. nonproliferation policy.
Nov. 9, 2012
This report includes resources from the October 2012 meeting of the Global Dialogue on Nuclear Security Priorities in Dalfsen, The Netherlands.
This article provides an overview of North Korea's historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.