Carter Says Claim That North Korea Cheated Is `False' (Update1)
By Judy Mathewson
Nov. 3 (Bloomberg) -- The Bush administration claim that North Korea cheated or reneged on a 1994 agreement with the U.S. to freeze its nuclear program is "completely false and ridiculous,'' former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said.
Carter, a Democrat who helped broker the agreement with the North Koreans on behalf of then-President Bill Clinton, said the pact was "observed pretty well by both sides'' for eight years.
"It lasted until 2002 when the United States in effect abandoned that agreement and branded North Korea as an axis of evil,'' Carter, 82, said in an interview to be broadcast this weekend on "Conversations with Judy Woodruff'' on Bloomberg Television. Carter also said the U.S. further undermined the agreement by condemning summit meetings that took place in 2000 between North Korea and South Korea.
President George W. Bush said on Oct. 11, two days after North Korea tested a nuclear bomb, that the 1994 agreement "just didn't work.'' Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Oct. 10 said the North Koreans "cheated'' on that agreement.
Jon B. Wolfsthal who lived on a North Korean nuclear reservation in 1995 and 1996 as a U.S. monitor, said the reality of how the deal unraveled is more nuanced than either the Carter or Rice account.
"There's plenty of blame to go around for both sides,'' said Wolfsthal, who is now a fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. In North Korea, his job had been to ensure that North Korea was complying with the 1994 agreement.
To begin with, the U.S. didn't keep to its required schedule under the agreement for delivering fuel oil to the North Koreans. The reason was because in 1995 the Republican-controlled Congress exercised its constitutional right not to fund such shipments, Wolfsthal said in a telephone interview.
While the agreement didn't explicitly forbid the North Koreans from enriching uranium, Wolfsthal said "the spirit of the agreement was that they shouldn't do that, though.''
"Eventually there was a breakdown in both momentum and trust on both sides,'' he said, with another reason being the U.S. failure to recognize North Korea in the same way that China and Russia had officially recognized South Korea.
"The North Koreans can rightly argue that they didn't get what they were promised,'' he said in a telephone interview. "North Korea is accused of cheating by the United States, but the United States wanted the deal dead anyway.''