North Korean actions prove Bolton right

Former American Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has been predicting North Korea would disavow previous commitments (inspection and verification efforts) made to America and its allies regarding its nuclear program

Bolton was right; and the New York Times editorial page was wrong when it trusted the North Koreans to follow through and blamed the Bush Administration for problems dealing with the North Korean regime. Now the North Koreans are threatening war if America tries to hold it to its promises.

The Bush Administration has made concession after concession to the regime in efforts to coax it towards opening its nuclear program to inspection and encourage it to stop its proliferation efforts. America worked with its allies to restrict the movement of funds in Asian banks held by North Korea; the first concession released these funds to a regime desperate for cash. America agreed to deliver fuel oil to the energy short nation. America removed North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

All for naught. Well ,not entirely for naught. North Korea received all the benefits; America not only received zero benefits but we fouled relations with our erstwhile allies in Asia (including Japan and South Korea who counseled caution and resented American actions.

Was Bolto being prophetic as usual? Maybe President-elect Barack Obama will reconsider the wisdom of his vocal opposition to John Bolton when Bolton faced a confirmation battle in the Senate. Perhaps, Obama will realize he is again being tested (the Russians sent a shot across the bow when they warned against American deployment of an anti-missile system in Poland) and come to the realization that regimes such as North Korea (and Iran) routinely make promises that they have no compunction breaking when they have reaped the benefits and then are called to bear the burdens.

From the New York Times:

In its first major act of defiance since Senator Barack Obama's election, North Korea said Wednesday that it would bar international nuclear inspectors from taking soil and nuclear waste samples, which are considered crucial to determining the extent of its weapons program.

The Foreign Ministry said that American experts would be allowed to visit the main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, north of the capital, Pyongyang, to review documents and interview engineers, according to the North's state-run Korea Central News Agency. But no samples can be taken, it said.

The North also said any inspections by American and United Nations experts must be confined to Yongbyon, where a plutonium-based nuclear plant is being dismantled. That limitation complicates Washington's attempts to determine whether the North has been pursuing a separate uranium-enrichment program and exporting nuclear technology to countries like Syria.

North Korea detonated a plutonium-based device in 2006, adding urgency to arduous six-nation talks to halt the North's nuclear program. As part of the eventual deal, the North made a declaration in June of its nuclear activities. President Bush then said he was prepared to remove North Korea from a list of state sponsors of terrorism, and the North demolished the cooling tower at its Yongbyon nuclear plant.

But it was months before the North was removed from the list, while the United States wrangled with its negotiators over how to verify the North's nuclear declaration and criticism of the Bush administration - for extracting too few concessions - mounted. Finally, in October, the State Department announced that North Korea had agreed to access "based on mutual consent" to undeclared nuclear sites and "sampling and forensic activities."

North Korea's statement on Wednesday contradicted that, and further, warned that if the United States diverged from the joint document "even by one word, it could lead inevitably to war."