In an effort to increase pressure on North Korea, the Bush administration told its Asian allies in briefings earlier this year that Pyongyang had exported nuclear material to Libya.
….But that is not what U.S. intelligence reported, according to two officials with detailed knowledge of the transaction. North Korea, according to the intelligence, had supplied uranium hexafluoride ? which can be enriched to weapons-grade uranium ? to Pakistan. It was Pakistan, a key U.S. ally with its own nuclear arsenal, that sold the material to Libya. The U.S. government had no evidence, the officials said, that North Korea knew of the second transaction.
I’m willing to cut Bush some slack on Pakistan. Yes, his policies have been inconsistent and often hypocritical, but Pakistan is genuinely a tough nut: a dictatorship, a nuclear proliferator, and a country with key officials who are sympathetic to radical Islamism; but also a nuclear power, a necessary ally in the fight against al-Qaeda, and an unstable country in a powderkeg region. Bush is hardly the first president to have a tough time figuring out what to do about Pakistan.
But to actively cover up their role in transferring uranium to Libya? In private briefings to key allies? What the hell was he thinking?
Bush seems bound and determined to ensure that no U.S. ally will ever again believe anything we tell them. Does he really think that’s in America’s best long-term interests?