Joel Wit: Agreed Frameworks “Worked Very Well”

Fortunately, Sung Yoon Lee is there to remind us of the reality of Mr. Wit’s sterling record. Depending on your perspective, you may wish to avert your eyes:


Watch Kim Jong-un Orders Rockets Ready to Strike United States on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Some viewers may judge Wit a bit too boastful about the length of his experience dealing with the North Koreans, but on closer examination, he understates his experience almost as much as he overstates his success. According to some reports, Wit was meeting with Kim Gye Gwan in January 2007, and seemed familiar with the terms of Agreed Framework II, which the North Koreans and Chris Hill signed the following month.  It’s reasonable to infer that Wit was, at the very least, greasing the wheels for Hill’s deal.  As late as February 2008, after North Korea was caught lying about its HEU program, after North Korea refused to provide a full disclosure of its nuclear programs as agreed, and even after the Israeli Air Force destroyed the reactor Kim Jong Il was building for Bashar Assad, Wit was quoted as saying that “the level of cooperation is very good, better than I have seen it in 10 years.”  (Wit was an avowed denier of North Korea’s HEU program, at least before the North Koreans showed Sig Hecker an underground complex filled with thousands of centrifuges.)  In his eagerness to bolster the length of his experience dealing with North Korea, Wit also takes responsibility for a longer list of misjudgments and failures.

So if Wit’s approach is the right one, why, after all these years of brilliantly successful diplomacy, is he on the PBS News Hour talking about North Korean nuclear blackmail?

 

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