Thursday, September 02, 2004

Lunatics for Proliferation 

Do stories like this ever make the military and foreign-policy geniuses of the Bush administration wish they hadn't squandered their last puny scrap of moral capital by A) unilaterally withdrawing from the ABM treaty; B) funding the development of a new generation of "bunker-busting" tactical nuclear weapons ("vital to defending the U.S. against emerging threats posed by terrorist groups . . . against countries -- including Iraq -- believed to be acquiring and concealing weapons of mass destruction for potential use in terrorist attacks"); and then C) withdrawing support for the inspection-and-verification provisions of the international treaty to curtail production of weapons-grade nuclear materials?
South Korean government scientists secretly enriched uranium to nearly bomb-grade levels in experiments conducted four years ago, officials in Seoul and Vienna acknowledged yesterday, as the International Atomic Energy Agency announced it had launched a major investigation of the country's programs and nuclear technologies.

U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the United States had begun a separate inquiry into whether the scientists involved had trained at U.S. nuclear facilities as part of friendly exchange programs and whether the technology may have come from the United States years ago.

Experts and diplomats said revelations that a U.S. ally conducted secret nuclear work, in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, could complicate efforts by the Bush administration to increase international pressure on Iran and North Korea, which are also accused of conducting clandestine programs.

The administration wants Iran referred to the U.N. Security Council for violating its commitments to the treaty. But South Korea, also a signatory to the treaty, could face the Security Council first, some diplomats said on the condition of anonymity . . . .

"Not only did they have an undeclared uranium-enrichment program, but they were actually making something close to bomb-grade, so you have to conclude someone wanted to develop a capability to make nuclear weapons," said David Albright, a former IAEA inspector and head of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security.

"This could not have come at a worse time for the Bush administration's efforts on both Iran and North Korea," said Jon Wolfsthal, a nonproliferation specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "Iran is going to say the U.S. is giving an ally a free pass, while the North Koreans are going to accuse the U.S. and the South of hypocrisy and warmongering."
The appalling part is, Iran and North Korea -- two of the scummier regimes on the planet -- will be absolutely right.

Anyone care to imagine how much safer the world will be after four more years of Bush?

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