I declined to do a posting on Chris Hill’s latest meeting with the North Koreans — the latest in a long series of last chances — because it was pretty clear that North Korea wasn’t going to admit to having a uranium enrichment program or to having engaged in nuclear proliferation to Syria. Here, I was right. I had also concluded that lacking any political room to make further concessions to the North Koreans, State wouldn’t agree to water down down North Korea’s disarmament or declaration requirement. Here, I again made the mistake of underestimating what our State Department would pay for beachfront property in South Dakota. State is now asking the President to approve a deal along the following lines, under terms that are immeasurably worse than what had previously been agreed with the North Koreans:
North Korea fully declares its nuclear program, including its past proliferation activities.We write their declaration for them and they say “whatever.” The State Department provides this declaration to them in a secret annex, which it may or may not get around to sharing with members of Congress who will have to fund this, and which will never be shared with the rest of us in the hoi-polloi. Essentially, North Korea admits nothing, and we all “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.” Then, North Korea goes to work on identifying and shooting the people who told us what little we actually know. North Korea hands over its fissile materials and nuclear weapons.North Korea still doesn’t even have to tell us exactly how much plutonium it has, and we don’t accept their estimate. Maybe we’ll discuss that again this fall, say our ChiCom friends. Or maybe never. Is never good for you? Mark your calendars, then. North Korea fully disables, then dismantles, its nuclear program.They partially dismantled one worn-out 5-MW reactor. In the unlikely event they actually need more nuclear weapons, they’ll fire up the nearly complete 50-MW reactor next door or finish up the 200-MW reactor a few miles to the north. We agree to begin the process of removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terror, on an action-for-action basis.We lift all sanctions now, before North Korea disarms at all. We also bail them out with aid, which requires Congress to give them a waiver under the Glenn Amendment. We will discuss full diplomatic relations at some appropriate time, contingent on North Korea no longer counterfeiting our money and improving its human rights record.They’re still counterfeiting our money and they’re running what may be, on a per capita basis, the most repressive regime in the history of mankind. But those are differences we can live with “in the context of two states that have diplomatic relations.”
In short, we give up all of our leverage, and they give up nothing that would have been of any use to them by the end of this year anyway. Well, that certainly seems to solve … absolutely nothing.
I know that some people in Congress will not like this, and I know that others probably will not care because it’s an election year. There is one person who could scuttle this deal quickly, and that person is John McCain.