- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

My thanks for your astute assessment of North Korea's recent missile launch (”A direct challenge to Obama,” Editorial, April 6). Policies that continue to coddle North Korea suggest a failure to understand the lessons of Sept. 11, 2001 — Weakness invites provocation, and U.S. foreign policy is only effective when we have credible military options.

The coddling of North Korea's dictator, Kim Jong-il, has continued long after the Clinton administration's 1994 Agreed Framework, whereby North Korea was supposed to cease development of its nuclear program in exchange for fuel and other goodies. The George W. Bush administration wisely eschewed the ineffective United Nations and opted for six-party talks with North Korea. That did not solve our problems, however.

In 2006, the United States agreed to remove North Korea from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism and to remove restrictions associated with the Trading With the Enemy Act. As a result of this policy decision, the United States failed to secure details about North Korea's suspected uranium enrichment and proliferation activities. The United States also failed to obtain an accurate assessment of the nuclear weapons already produced.

The Obama administration is quickly establishing an international reputation for an incoherent and feckless U.S. foreign policy. It initially indicated that it would speak directly to Iran, provided that the Iranians ended their nuclear weapons program and stopped supporting terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. When the Obama administration spoke to Iran recently, it did so without obtaining either concession. There is no finer example of the ineffectiveness of U.S. foreign policy under President Obama than that. To make matters worse, some published reports indicate that Iranian officials were present at the missile launch in North Korea.

The threat that North Korea poses is a direct challenge not only to Mr. Obama but also to global stability. You do not need a great imagination to deliberate the possible outcomes of North Korea's proliferation of nuclear weapons to countries that sponsor terrorism and seek dangerous long-range missile-delivery capabilities.

MICHAEL P. MULHALL

Rockville Centre, N.Y.

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