Monday, May 02, 2005

Bush vs. Bill on N. Korea nukes

New York Daily News
Bush vs. Bill on N. Korea nukes

Monday, May 2nd, 2005

WASHINGTON - After North Korea tested a new missile that plunged into the Sea of Japan yesterday, a top White House official pinned blame for the Communist nation's secret development of nuclear arms on President Bill Clinton.

Asked if North Korea became a nuclear power on President Bush's watch, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card retorted, "Or on President Clinton's watch."

"Some of those weapons may well have been produced as the North Koreans were violating the agreement that they had with President Clinton," Card told NBC's "Meet the Press."

Wendy Sherman, Clinton's special adviser on North Korea, responded, "The worst of this problem has happened on the watch of the Bush administration."

Sherman admitted North Korea "may have built one or two nuclear weapons in the 1990s," but said the pressure Clinton put on dictator Kim Jong Il was reversed under Bush and "six or eight" nukes may be in his stockpile.

"Things have gotten much, much worse," she said.

Card also downplayed the startling warning last week by a top Pentagon intel official, who said the regime could arm missiles with nuclear payloads.

"We don't know that [Kim Jong Il] can, but there is increasing evidence of capability," Card told CNN's "Late Edition."

Card said on CNN and Fox News that North Korea's missile test showed its leaders want to be the "bullies in the world."

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency warned last week that North Korea has the ability to mount a nuclear device on a longer-range missile and the Communist state could hit U.S. territory.

Still, U.S. officials said yesterday that the North Koreans had been having difficulty firing lower-range devices.

Asked what North Korea hoped to gain by testing the missile, Card told Fox, "I think they're looking to kind of be bullies in the world. And they're causing others to stand up and take notice."

He also accused the North Korean leader of flaunting his weapons programs and violating agreements.