A Legacy to Die For

President George W. Bush says it will be about fifty years before historians can properly evaluate his legacy. Of course, that’s not true; some historians already know what Bush’s legacy will likely be: the deliberate destruction of the existing international nuclear-weapons proliferation-prevention regime.

But it is slightly comforting, isn’t it, knowing that God apparently hasn’t told Bush to precipitate Armageddon before leaving office.

According to recent reports by Mainstream Media Persons – who apparently reformat their hard-drives each night before retiring – Bush and Condi-baby are hanging their legacy hopes on the "successful" outcome of the present Six-Party (China, Russia, Japan, United States, South and North Korea) Talks.

Quoth Bush; “If North Korea continues to make the right choices it can repair its relationship with the international community."

And what would amount to North Korea making the "right choices"?

Well, for one thing, those Dirty Commies could "admit" that Bush was right to charge them in the fall of 2002 with having a "secret enriched-uranium based nuclear weapons program."

You see, way back in 1992, North Korea threatened to withdraw from the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, largely because of disputes with the International Atomic Energy Agency about the quantities of materials to be "declared" under the Safeguards Agreement North Korea was required to conclude with the IAEA as a condition of being a no-nuke-yet signatory to the NPT.

That would never do, since at the time President Clinton was hell-bent on building his intended legacy, getting every nation – including India, Pakistan and Israel – to (a) become a NPT signatory and (b) sign and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Hence, the Clinton-negotiated Agreed Framework of 1994, under which North Korea agreed to not only remain a NPT-signatory, but to “freeze” its plutonium-producing reactors and related facilities and to “eventually dismantle these reactors and related facilities,” all subject to IAEA oversight, of course.

What did the DPRK get in return?

“The US will provide formal assurances to the DPRK, against the threat or use of nuclear weapons by the U.S.”


"The two sides will move toward full normalization of political and economic relations."

But Bush the Younger became President and almost immediately repudiated Clinton’s efforts to implement the Agreed Framework, telling South Korea’s president and North Korean emissaries he had no intentions of “normalizing” relations with North Korea.

And, in his first State of the Union Address, Bush essentially accused North Korea, Iran and Iraq of having clandestine nuclear weapons programs.

“States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.

“I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.”

But – at that time – North Korea, Iran and Iraq were NPT signatories and had their “declared” nuclear facilities subject to IAEA periodic inspection. Furthermore, both Iraq and North Korea were subject to additional stringent IAEA surveillance.

Obviously, if Bush was to advance the American Hegemony, to impose regime change on Iraq, Iran and North Korea, on the false pretext they had nukes, the IAEA nuke proliferation-prevention regime had to be discredited or superseded.

So, in October 2002, months after we now know Bush had already decided to launch a war with Iraq, Bush unilaterally abrogated the Agreed Framework, charging that North Korea had a secret enriched-uranium nuke program.

Then, Bush announced his own National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction in late 2002 and developed from it the Proliferation Security Initiative of 2003, whose objective was to create a web of international “counter-proliferation partnerships” to prevent “proliferators” from “carrying out their trade in WMD and missile-related technology.”

According to Bonkers Bolton – then Undersecretary of State for Non-Proliferation – the PSI was necessary because “proliferators and those facilitating the procurement of deadly capabilities are circumventing existing laws, treaties and controls against WMD proliferation.” Unlike the existing UN nuke proliferation-prevention regime, “PSI is not diverted by disputes about candidacies for director general, agency budgets, agendas for meetings and the like.”

By then, of course, North Korea had already withdrawn from the NPT – which rendered their IAEA Safeguards Agreement null and void – and was busily producing weapons-grade plutonium in their Soviet-built 20 MWt research reactor.

Soon the North Koreans tested – at least semi-successfully – a plutonium-based nuclear weapon.

Alarmed that Bush might launch another war of aggression, this time against their neighbor, North Korea, which might once again – as it did in 1950 – involve them, the Chinese and Russians got Bush to participate in the so-called Six-Party talks, with the objective of a negotiated peace settlement for the Korean War.

You see, in 1948, China had officially become the People’s Republic of China. But the United States refused to recognize the PRC; refused to allow them to take China veto-wielding seat on the UN Security Council. In protest, the Soviet Union was boycotting the UN Security Council. Hence, neither the PRC or Soviet Union were able to veto President Truman’s UN "police action."

However, PRC and Soviet "volunteers" were able to force us into a military stalemate in 1953 at the 38th Parallel, which was the North-South boundary agreed to by Truman and Stalin at Potsdam in 1945.

The resulting armistice – which is now in its 55th year – is actually a negotiated ceasefire between the Commander of UN forces and the Commanders of the North Korean and Chinese forces.

The Fifth Round of the Six-Party talks concluded last year with all parties agreeing, inter alia, to what amounts to a "side-bar."

“The DPRK and the U.S. will start bilateral talks aimed at resolving bilateral issues and moving toward full diplomatic relations.”

So, are we back to where Clinton had us with the US-DPRK Agreed Framework of 1994?

Well, not quite;

For one thing, North Korea’s neighbors – Russia and China – are much more powerful, economically and militarily, than they were in 1994. Furthermore, they will effectively be acting as guarantors that neither North Korea or the U.S. can unilaterally abrogate the associated U.S.-DPRK bilateral agreements.

Finally, Article IV of the Agreed Framework says,

"Both sides will work together to strengthen the international nuclear [weapons] non-proliferation regime."

Now, what was it that Bush’s Legacy will likely be?

Oh, yes – the deliberate destruction of the existing international nuclear-weapons proliferation-prevention regime.

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.