Washington hardliners triggered nuclear crisis with N. Korea, says new book

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Washington, Aug. 4 :Bush Administration hardliners reportedly spun intelligence that triggered a nuclear crisis with North Korea and led to Pyongyang testing a bomb, says a new book to be released this week.

The Australian quotes from a book by former senior CNN journalist Mike Chinoy as saying that intelligence on a North Korea effort to acquire components for uranium enrichment was politicised to depict the hardline communist state running a full-fledged production facility capable of developing a nuclear bomb.

Now with the Los Angeles-based Pacific Council on International Policy, Chinoy wrote Meltdown: The inside story of the North Korean nuclear crisis after gaining unprecedented access during his 14 trips to North Korea and conducting 200 interviews in Washington, Seoul, Tokyo and other Asian capitals.

The book shows that US intelligence did discover in 2002-2003 a North Korea effort to acquire components that could be used for uranium enrichment but that it was only a procurement effort.

There was no credible intelligence that North Koreans actually had a facility capable of making uranium-based bombs.

Yet, conservative hardliners bent on ending an "Agreed Framework" nuclear deal with North Korea forged under President Bill Clinton's administration seized on the issue to force a confrontation, the book said.

Chinoy, who interviewed most of the members of a U.S. delegation that was involved in negotiations with North Korea, said he could not find any evidence that the North Koreans explicitly admitted having such a program. "It's interesting that the transcript remains classified but it appears that a North Korean offical used much more ambiguous language and also tabled an offer to negotiate - which Kelly rejected," he adds. "There are parallels and differences obviously with the way the intelligence became a source of controversy in Iraq but unlike Iraq, the actual intelligence that the Americans had in North Korea in the spring and summer of 2002 was pretty solid," Chinoy said. "But the combination of internal politics and media generalisation...created an impression that it was somewhat different from the reality," he said.

ANI

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