Updated : Mar.22.2005 07:43 KST

[Editorial] US Intelligence on NK that Can't Be Believed

The March 20 Washington Post report that in order to intensify pressure on North Korea the Bush Administration gave Korea and other Asian nations false information suggesting the North had exported nuclear material to Libya is shocking. That activity inevitably hurts the cause of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. It of course makes other intelligence less reliable as well.

On February 2, the New York Times reported that US intelligence officials and government scientists had almost conclusively determined that North Korea had exported two tons of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) to Libya. The source of that intelligence was supposed to be the National Security Council (NSC) and other government officials. The US administration had already informed the nations involved of that intelligence, and the when Michael Green of the US's NSC visited Korea, China, and Japan immediately after that report came out, he is said to have talked along the same lines. The news meant for a very serious situation, because the US has long considered the North Korean sale of nuclear material to terrorist groups or other nations as a line that the North must not cross.

This new Washington Post report exposes those US government officials for deliberately distorting the facts. The intelligence actually stated that the UF6 North Korea sold Pakistan was then sold to Libya, but administration officials changed things to say the North dealt with Libya directly. Furthermore, the North's exportation of UF6 was a "commercial deal" that had already been known about previously. Such deceptive tricks have had two negative consequences. One is that scared North Korea into declaring it will not participate in the six-party talks. The other is that the confidence Asian nations have in the US has been damaged.

The US already has a history here, for having significantly distorted the intelligence when invading Iraq. These latest developments make you worry that something similar may happen with the North Korean nuclear issue. The US and the North are making very different claims regarding a highly enriched uranium (HEU) program. The US needs to explain this matter in detail. Spreading false information to apply pressure on the North is not the way to solve the problem.

The Hankyoreh, 22 March 2005.

[Translations by Seoul Selection (PMS)]


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