There is a widespread assumption in Washington that Iraq paid the North Korean ruler Kim Jong-Il good money to raise a furor over his nuclear arms program so as to divide the Bush administration’s single-minded concentration on the war against Baghdad and buy time for Saddam Hussein. However, that assumption may only cover a part of the ploy. According to some of DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources, Kim received much larger cash pledges from his Middle East clients – and not only Iraq – for the future sale of complete nuclear bombs.
The situation was best summed up in an article by Dennis Ross in the Washington Post of last Friday, January 10:
“Does that argue for the administration's approach of isolation and containment of North Korea? It might, if the North Koreans were two or three years away from being able to produce a half-dozen nuclear devices. But it's more likely that they are only six months away, and that is not sufficient time for the effects of isolation and containment to work on Kim Jong Il. The price to North Korea in six months will not be appreciably different from what it is today. In six months, North Korea will be in a position to sell a nuclear device, and its record to date demonstrates unmistakably that it will sell anything to anybody at any time.”
To this comment, DEBKA-Net-Weekly adds from its intelligence sources:
Kim already has six nuclear devices, but to keep his brinkmanship tactics afloat he needs them at home in his keeping.
In another six months, he can build six more devices for sale. So if Kim gets six months' grace – and Saddam is also allowed to buy six months – the entire Arab Middle East will be given the time to acquire advanced nuclear weapons.
(See also first HOT POINT at the bottom of this issue.)