- The Washington Times - Monday, October 21, 2002

We now know what many of us have long suspected: The North Korean regime of Kim Jong-il has been massively cheating on a 1994 agreement with the Clinton administration to end its nuclear weapons program. We know they have an enriched uranium program similar to the U.S. program that produced the Hiroshima bomb. As yet, we do not know if they have a plutonium program but that's not beyond the realm of possibility.
Quite a few big names are going to have their reputations damaged by this past week's revelations:
Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmie Carter who was instrumental in the creation of the 1994 "Agreed Framework" with North Korea.
Nobel Peace Prize winner President Kim Dae-jung of South Korea who supported it.
The Clinton administration in general and Madeleine Albright in particular who believed in it. Who can forget her little dance in North Korea in front of the North Korean security guards?
When it comes to a North Korean nuclear program, it's difficult to avoid "worst case" analysis. Late last year, a North Korean spy ship crew committed suicide rather than surrender to Japanese forces. The waters around Japan contain thousands of fishing vessels from Japan, Taiwan, Russia and the two Koreas. How hard would it be for the North Koreans to send a nuclear-armed suicide mission into a Japanese harbor disguised as a harmless fishing vessel?
Certainly that, and other possibilities, have to be going through the minds of every Japanese official now. If Kobe, Japan, should suddenly be destroyed by a nuclear blast, what could they do about it? Without a doubt a nuclear option for Japan has to be under serious consideration behind closed doors in Tokyo. A nuclear-armed Japan would raise concerns throughout the region.
Next in the "worst case" analysis comes the question of possible North Korean export sales. We already know they have successfully sold their missile delivery to at least Iran and Pakistan. If their nuclear program can produce a nuclear warhead, there is nothing to keep them from selling a full-up, nuclear missile system to any member of the "Axis of Evil," including Libya. A quick glance at a map of the Mediterranean shows that a Libyan-based North Korean missile system could threaten all of Europe. Israel and Turkey would be threatened by any nuclear sale to Iran, Iraq, Syria or Libya.
Then, there is the threat to the United States. In 1998, the North Koreans flew a three-stage missile over Japan. The third stage landed uncomfortably close to Hawaii. We have to assume a steady increase in capabilities here.
What can we do about it? For the United States and its allies in Asia, this validates the arguments in favor of missile defense. The United States, Japan, Taiwan and India already are talking about joint efforts. Those talks will intensify, particularly since there was a successful interception test this week. Since the 1998 North Korean test shot went over Japan, we can anticipate the Japanese to be the most concerned.
Finally, there is the question of China. The available American intelligence indicates the North Koreans have been cheating on the nuclear agreement since at least the mid-1990s and probably from the very beginning of the agreement in 1994. If American intelligence knows this, what did Chinese intelligence know about it, and when did it know it? And, did Chinese intelligence tell the leadership in Beijing what it knew? Incompetence or malfeasance?
China has a number of foreign intelligence services, the most prominent of which are the Ministry of State Security, China's KGB, and the People's Liberation Army's Second Department, its military intelligence arm. Given the militarized nature of the North Korean regime and the subject matter, the 2nd Department, known as the "ErBu" in Chinese, would probably have the lead. The head of the ErBu is Gen. Xiong Guangkai, who publicly threatened a nuclear strike on Los Angeles in the mid-1990s.
President Bush and the American Congress have accepted responsibility for Iraq. We will have to deal with Saddam.
But North Korea is arguably as bad as Iraq and it is in Communist China's backyard. The North Korean leaders have declared China and North Korea are as close as "lips and teeth." It was the ErBu's responsibility to keep an eye (and ear) on what's going on in North Korea and inform the Beijing leadership accordingly.
Ultimately, the buck stops at Jiang Zemin's desk. If the PRC is to be given the international respect it wants, Jiang and his successors are going to have to accept the idea that with respect comes responsibility. It is their job, not the Americans', to ensure that their client state, North Korea, does not pose a threat to anyone, inside or outside the region. North Korea is their problem, not ours, and they have to solve it without a new round of extortion aimed at us. The revelations of North Korea's secret nuclear program amply demonstrate Beijing's failure to date.
A change of attitude ought to be on the table when President Bush meets Mr. Jiang in Crawford on Oct. 25.

Edward Timperlake and William C. Triplett, II are the authors of "Red Dragon Rising," Regnery.

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