The State Department is excluding its own verifiers from monitoring North Korea’s compliance in dismantling its nuclear program — a move being questioned in a Wall Street Journal editorial.
The Department's Bureau of Verification, Compliance and Implementation was created by a Republican Congress in 1999 in the spirit of Ronald Reagan’s “trust but verify” policy toward the Soviet Union’s disarmament.
Its mandate, according to the State Department’s Web site, is to provide oversight "on all matters relating to verification or compliance with international arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament agreements and commitments."
The bureau's biggest success to date is Libya, where it played a central role in dismantling the country's WMD programs in 2003, the Journal noted.
But with North Korea, the verifiers "have no voice so far," one person close to the process told the Journal.
They are not part of the teams negotiating with the North Koreans. No one from the bureau participated in a recent State Department trip to Pyongyang aimed at working out verification issues, and the bureau is not in charge of monitoring the disabling of Korea’s nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.
Instead, the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs is talking to the North Koreans, selecting experts to work at Yongbyon, and overseeing disablement.
“Now there's talk that the East Asia bureau – not the verification bureau – will also end up monitoring any final six-party agreement,” the Journal editorial states.
“Not only does East Asia lack the technical expertise to verify a nuclear agreement, its staffers would hardly be eager to find violations in an accord negotiated by their superiors.”
The decision by State Department officials, including Secretary Condoleezza Rice, to exclude their own verifiers is “further reason to doubt their North Korea deal. The diplomats want to deliver a ‘success’ and are afraid that if the verifiers get a close look, they will expose it as a fraud.”
The Journal concludes: “If Foggy Bottom won't trust its own verifiers enough to make them part of any disarmament deal, then the rest of us shouldn't trust any deal struck by the Bush State Department.”
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