George Cheney-Bush's pants are about to burst into flames. That accounts for the White House's sudden retreat from its years of claims that North Korea had an advanced uranium enrichment programme.
As the New York Times points out, it's the US, not N. Korea, that may have some explaining to do when UN nuclear inspectors return to Pyongyang.
"...we suspect that this week’s confessions of doubt about North Korea had less to do with a sudden burst of candor than the fact that Pyongyang has agreed to readmit nuclear inspectors — who probably won’t be able to find the active uranium enrichment program the administration has been alleging for more than four years. Add to that the White House’s eagerness for a diplomatic win in these bleak times — and its insistence that a nuclear deal cannot go ahead if the North is believed to be hiding things — and you understand why the White House might find this truth so convenient.
"Late may be better than never, but it isn’t nearly enough to make up for the damage caused. And we haven’t even raised the issue of Iraq and its long-gone weapons.
"Let’s be clear. The North Koreans had and have an illicit nuclear arms program. They tested a device from their plutonium-based program last October. And Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has admitted that North Korea bought some 20 centrifuges — useful only for enriching uranium — from Abdul Qadeer Khan’s nuclear black market.
"The problem is that the Bush administration eagerly spun those 20 centrifuges into an industrial-scale enrichment program, and then used it as an excuse to scuttle a Clinton-era deal to close down the North’s plutonium-based weapons program. Four years later, the North set off that test."