How Rumsfeld Built Pyongyang Its Nukes

Republicans are going out of their way this morning to knock the Clinton's administration's 1994 deal to allow the North Koreans to build two light-water nuclear reactors in exchange for haulting the development of nuclear weaponry. (The light-water reactors were, under the terms of the agreement, supposed to be used for providing non-military energy, though intelligence officers now believe that North Korea secretly used them for military purposes.) Donald Rumsfeld, no shrinking violet, has not been among the Republicans attacking the Clinton administration this morning. Why not? According to the Guardian, Rumsfeld was a director of a company called ABB, which won the $200 million contract to build the light water reactors in North Korea at the time the contract was awarded. And, according to Fortune, Rumsfeld may have personally lobbied the Clinton administration on behalf of ABB. None of this completely exempts the Clinton administration from responsibility, but it certainly makes the aesthetics of the episode worse for the Republicans, and makes it more difficult for the administration and its allies to bash Democrats for letting North Korea get nukes. (The case the Democrats are making this morning, that it was the Bush administration's inattention that let Pyongyang develop nuclear capabilities, is summed up pretty thoroughly here.