White House spokesman Tony Snow offered up an analysis of Bill Clinton's policy toward North Korea today: "I understand what the Clinton administration wanted to do. They wanted to talk reason to the government of Pyongyang, and they engaged in bilateral conversations. And Bill Richardson went with flowers and chocolates...and many other inducements for the "Dear Leader" to try to agree not to develop nuclear weapons, and it failed....We've learned from that mistake.Okay, but what part of it failed? The North Koreans stopped building weapons-grade plutonium for a while, under the Agreed Framework. What were the conditions of the AF? Broadly, the DPRK would stop using the fuel it alread had, and the Americans would build light-water reactors that can't be used for weapons materials. Energy supplies would be provided in the meantime.
So what happened? Crazy old Kim must have simply reneged on a good deal, right?
America never built the reactors. The reactors were only begun in construction in 2002, and even then the US Senate refused to fund them in any way. The North Koreans patiently waited while America gave no impression of ever intending to build the reactors it had promised.
America broke its word, and the Republican Congress is the main culprit. If you only know one fact about the Korean peninsula, this should be it. This crisis is America's doing, nobody else's.
Why then did Kim decide to abandon the AF in 2002? Gee, I dunno, maybe this. After all, once Bush put Kim in the crosshairs, keeping his end of a deal the Americans had essentially abandoned made no sense whatsoever.