- The Washington Times - Friday, March 3, 2000

Secret nuke efforts

President Clinton indirectly confirmed this week that North Korea is continuing to secretly develop nuclear weapons. The confirmation appeared in a presidential memorandum authorizing $15 million for Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO). KEDO was set up under the 1994 Agreed Framework that supposedly "froze" North Korea's nuclear program in exchange for two new nuclear power-generating reactors.

The presidential memorandum was published quietly in the Federal Register Wednesday. It said Mr. Clinton will send KEDO the money even though he cannot legally certify that Pyongyang has stopped acquiring uranium-enrichment technology. He also could not declare that North Korea is not illegally diverting U.S.-supplied fuel oil.

The memorandum supports critics who say the Clinton administration is more interested in signing questionable arms agreements than in making sure they are followed.

A secret U.S. intelligence report disclosed by this newspaper last year said North Korea was buying uranium-enrichment gear in Japan and could build a system for producing nuclear weapons fuel in six years.

Before releasing KEDO funds, the law requires Mr. Clinton to certify that North Korea "is not seeking to develop or acquire the capability to enrich uranium, or any additional capability to reprocess spent nuclear fuel." It also requires certification that no U.S. assistance is "diverted" improperly.

Both provisions were waived by Mr. Clinton, who said supplying the $15 million to KEDO is "vital" to U.S. national security.

The president has certified that North Korea is following a 1991 denuclearization accord requiring inspections, and is engaged in a dialogue with South Korea. Analysts said these declarations were questionable.

The versatile Guard

The Army National Guard's importance is growing within the armed forces and it's not just because of all the peacekeeping around the world.

The Pentagon already has announced that Guard divisions will carry out the Bosnian peace enforcement missions in the years ahead. Now, the Pentagon is looking at Guardsmen to man what promises to be one of the most-watched military jobs: national missile defense (NMD).

The department is close to announcing a plan to assign 200 to 350 active Guard troops to operate the single NMD site tentatively scheduled to go operational in 2005, most likely in Alaska near Fairbanks.

They would operate 20 to 100 interceptor launchers, depending on the threat assessment at the time. The 2005 date is driven by expectations that by then North Korea may have missiles capable of reaching U.S. soil.

Congress must first approve the Guard force, which would come under the control of U.S. Space Command. President Clinton is expected to pick a site and a deployment date this summer.

A Pentagon source said the Guard is being considered because such troops are already stationed in Alaska.

Members of Congress this year beat back an effort by the Army to cut Guard and Army Reserve troops. Lawmakers argued that the reduction was recommended before part-time soldiers began to play a critical peacekeeping role. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen agreed to put off the downsizing.

China wars (continued)

Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Kurt Campbell, the Pentagon's top Asia expert, is not leaving his post on May 1 as previously announced. Pentagon officials said Mr. Campbell will stay on one or two months longer to help with the transition to a new deputy assistant, after one is found. Mr. Campbell was set to become the vice president of Center for Strategic and International Studies on May Day.

His temporary replacement is Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Wallace Gregson, a Campbell deputy who will leave for a new post this summer.

Mr. Campbell's departure has renewed the effort by officials at the White House and State Department to find a pro-Beijing replacement, something senior Pentagon officials are resisting. Pentagon sources said these officials are demanding that the replacement be an Asia expert who is not a China specialist.

The big loser in the hunt for the top Pentagon Asia policy making slot is said to be David Shambaugh, the George Washington University academic. Mr. Shambaugh had been the pro-China officials' candidate for the Pentagon post until we disclosed the scheme in this space. Mr. Shambaugh's prospects were further diminished after the publication of a favorable article in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) newspaper. The article praised Mr. Shambaugh for providing a visiting PLA colonel with background information on Americans.

The political maneuvering for Mr. Campbell's post is another sign of disarray within the administration over China issues. Comments last week by Undersecretary of Defense Walter Slocombe that China faces "incalculable consequences" for any attack on Taiwan angered the pro-China faction.

And Pentagon officials were upset by comments made by Susan Shirk, Mr. Campbell's counterpart at the State Department. She sent an unofficial e-mail message to a group of California academics stating too categorically for some officials that the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier now exercising off Japan would not be called into duty to defend Taiwan.

Mrs. Shirk's comments were compared by some U.S. officials to the careless diplomatic exchange between U.S. ambassador to Baghdad April Glaspie and Saddam Hussein. Miss Glaspie told the Iraqi dictator in July 1990 that the United States had "no opinion" about Baghdad's border dispute with Kuwait. Iraq invaded less than a month later.

Meanwhile, the National Defense University again has nominated Ronald Montaperto to be "interim" head of a special center at the university on the Chinese military. This despite his earlier rejection by Pentagon officials, who said he was unqualified. Congressional aides have threatened to cut all funds for the center if Mr. Montaperto, who is regarded as stridently pro-Beijing, gets the post.

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