About a year ago, according to reports by the fawning Mainstream Media, President Bush and Secretary Rice were "hanging their legacy hopes" on the expected to be "successful" outcome of the so-called Six-Party (China, Russia, Japan, United States and the two Koreas) talks, which began way back in 2003, shortly after Bush had forced North Korea to withdraw from the Treaty on Non-Proliferation and then launched his war of aggression against a virtually defenseless Iraq.
What would constitute a "successful" outcome?
Well, for Bush-Cheney-Bolton-Rice, it would mean getting everyone – especially the North Koreans – to miraculously reestablish the situation on the Korean peninsula as it existed on January of 2001, when President Clinton left office.
Way back in December, 1991, as a direct result of Bush the Elder’s withdrawal of all our nuclear weapons from South Korea, South President Roh Tae Woo and North Premier Kim Il-Sung signed the South-North Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Under the declaration, both countries – both NPT-signatories – agreed not only to not "test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy, or use nuclear weapons" but not even "possess nuclear-reprocessing and uranium-enrichment facilities."
At that time, the North had a small Soviet-supplied natural-uranium fueled research reactor, and two much larger similar reactors under construction, which could be operated to produce spent-fuel elements from which significant amounts of weapons-grade plutonium could be recovered. So the Russians insisted the North Koreans subject as soon as possible all Soviet-supplied facilities to a Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Well, IAEA Director-General Hans Blix soon got into a dispute about how much plutonium was actually contained in the existing spent-fuel elements being declared and wanted to make chemical assays of them. The North Koreans refused, whereupon Blix got the IAEA Board of Governors to request the UN Security Council to intervene against the North Koreans.
The Security Council declined to do so, but the North Koreans took offense at their treatment by the IAEA and announced they were withdrawing from the NPT.
By then Bill Clinton had become President, with an announced goal of getting every nation-state – including Israel – to become an NPT-signatory, and here was North Korea threatening to be the first NPT-signatory to withdraw from the NPT.
The result was the US-IAEA-DPRK Agreed Framework of 1994 [.pdf], 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.
Well, for several years, Bubba Clinton – as a result of extreme pressure from the neo-crazies and various human-rights zealots in Congress and elsewhere – didn’t make much progress towards that normalization.
Then Bush-Cheney-Rice-Bolton came to power and promptly told the North Koreans and South Koreans that they had no intention of ever holding such negotiations; not until the North Koreans were verified (by you-know-who) to have ended the nuclear-weapons programs that Bush-Cheney-Rice-Bolton, the neo-crazies and various human-rights zealots all claimed the North Koreans were pursuing right under the eyes/noses of the on-the-ground IAEA nuclear "freeze’ inspectors.
Well, according to a New Yorker report by Seymour Hersh, a few months before producing in the summer of 2002 the now infamous National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s alleged illicit uranium-based nuclear-weapons programs – being carried out right under the eyes/noses of IAEA inspectors – "Slam-Dunk" Tenet had also produced a similar even more outrageous NIE on North Korea’salleged illicit uranium-based nuclear-weapons programs.
Upon receiving Tenet’s NIE on North Korea, Dubya Bush unilaterally abrogated Clinton’s US-IAEA-DPRK Agreed Framework, immediately ending the associated fuel-oil shipments to North Korea.
Whereupon, the North Koreans gave notice they were withdrawing from the NPT, resuming operation of their plutonium-producing reactor, announced they would recover the weapons-grade plutonium in their existing spent-fuel elements, and would build a "nuclear deterrent" with it.
Thoroughly appalled at what Bush-Cheney-Rice-Bolton had wrought on the Korean peninsula, neighboring Chinese and Russians called for Six-Party talks, perhaps to at least prevent a resumption of the Korean War – in which Chinese and Russians participated, significantly – this time both sides armed with nukes.
Actually, since then, thanks to the continued intransigence of the neo-crazies and various human-rights zealots, the resumption of the Korean War, this time with both sides using nukes, has gotten more likely. The North Koreans have built a dozen or so first generation Plutonium-239 implosion nukes and somewhat successfully, according to the Russians, tested two of them underground.
Now, perhaps a year ago the fawning MSM really did believe that Dubya Bush would have his way in the talks.
After all, quoth Dubya: "If North Korea continues to make the right choices it can repair its relationship with the international community."
And what – for Dubya Bush – would constitute North Korea making the "right choices"?
Well, for one thing, those Dirty Commies would have to "admit" that Dubya had been right to charge them in the fall of 2002 with having a "secret uranium-based nuclear weapons program."
Now, Barack Obama is President and his public pronouncements on nuclear-weapons proliferation appear to be practically identical to the public pronouncements of Bubba Clinton when he became President.
Barack and Bubba both promised to implement sooner – rather than later – Article VI of the NPT, which calls for negotiations in good faith on general and complete disarmament.
Barack and Bubba both promised to strengthen the NPT-IAEA nuclear-weapon proliferation-prevention regime.
Barack and Bubba both expressed a determination to get all nation-states – including Israel – to make all their nuclear programs subject to NPT-related IAEA comprehensive Safeguards agreements.
So, what did Barack do when all the neo-crazies were demanding he nuke North Koreans because they had produced and were testing their ‘nuclear deterrent’?
And what did Barack do when various human-rights zealots were demanding that he at least threaten to nuke a few hundred-thousand North Koreans unless they released these two female US "investigative journalists" – Euna Lee and Laura Ling – who somehow managed to get themselves arrested inside North Korea and convicted of being spies?
Well, Barack sent Bubba – the former President who in his last year or two in office was apparently seriously attempting to comply with the Agreed Framework, under which we were to provide formal assurancesagainst the threat or use of nuclear weapons against the North Koreans and to move toward full normalization of political and economic relations – over to have a chat with DPRK Premier Kim Jong Il.
Well, Kim Jong Il not only released these two convicted spies to Bubba’s custody, but he even pardoned them for spying on him.
It’s interesting to speculate what Kim Jong Il would have released to Dubya’s custody, had Barack sent him, rather than Bubba.