"President George W. Bush is fond of comparing himself to Ronald Reagan. But as he meets with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Washington this week, his policy regarding North Korea's nuclear weapons program looks more like something out of Bill Clinton's or Jimmy Carter's playbook," John R. Bolton writes in the Wall Street Journal.
"In dealing with the Soviet Union on arms control, Reagan was famous for repeating the Russian phrase, 'Doveryai, no proveryai' (trust, but verify). Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev reportedly once complained to Reagan, 'You use that phrase every time we meet.' To which Reagan smilingly replied, 'That's because I like it so much.'
"This administration appears to have forgotten that concept altogether. Although the Six-Party Talks have been sliding into dangerous territory for some time, the Bush administration has repeatedly said that North Korea's complete, verifiable disclosure of its nuclear program was a sine qua non of any deal. No longer," said Mr. Bolton, who served Mr. Bush in the State Department and as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
"Last week in Singapore, U.S. chief negotiator Christopher Hill and his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye Gwan reached a deal that rests on trust and not verification. According to numerous press reports and Mr. Hill's April 10 congressional briefing, the U.S. will be expected to accept on faith, literally, North Korean assertions that it has not engaged in significant uranium enrichment, and that it has not proliferated nuclear technology or materials to countries like Syria and Iran.
"Indeed, the North will not even make the declaration it earlier agreed to, but merely 'acknowledge' that we are concerned about reports of such activities — which the United States itself will actually list. By some accounts, the North Korean statement will not even be public. In exchange for this utter nonperformance, the North will be rewarded with political 'compensation' (its word): Concurrent with its 'declaration,' it will be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and freed from the Trading With the Enemy Act."