Thursday, June 26, 2008

White House lifts sanctions on North Korea

The Heller Decision is getting a lot of our attention today, but we shouldn't miss a significant announcement concerning North Korea's quest for nuclear weapons:

Bush administration lifts North Korea sanctions

Jun 26, 9:34 AM (ET)


WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush said Thursday he will lift key trade sanctions against North Korea and remove it from the U.S. terrorism blacklist, a remarkable turnaround in policy toward the communist regime he once branded as part of an "axis of evil."

The announcement came after North Korea handed over a long-awaited accounting of its nuclear work to Chinese officials on Thursday, fulfilling a key step in the denuclearization process.

But these documents aren't everything we had hoped for:
A senior U.S. official said the declaration contains detailed data on the amount of plutonium North Korea produced during each of several rounds of production at a now-shuttered plutonium reactor. It is expected to total about 37 kilograms of plutonium - enough to make about a half-dozen bombs.

However, the declaration, which covers nuclear production dating back to 1986, does not contain detailed information about North Korea's suspected program of developing weapons fueled by enriched uranium.

It also does not provide a complete accounting of how it allegedly helped Syria build what senior U.S. intelligence officials say was a secret nuclear reactor meant to make plutonium, which can be used to make high-yield nuclear weapons. Israeli jets bombed the structure in the remote eastern desert of Syria in September 2007.

"This seems like an awfully big carrot to be handing out for incomplete cooperation. If this is a first, positive step towards North Korea giving up its quest for nuclear blackmail, removing the sanctions and taking the country off the State Department's list of terrorist sponsors in worthwhile. I'm not convinced." -Grant Bosse

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