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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Leak of the 'North Korea-Egypt Missile Deal'"

23 Jun 96 p 7
by Pak In-kyu

The Clinton administration, which has faced difficulties conducting its foreign policy due to the deep cuts made to its diplomacy budgets by the Republican-controlled Congress, is now in trouble due to internal bickering: It faces a dilemma ever since a government agency leaked the North Korea-Egypt missile equipment deal to the press.

THE WASHINGTON TIMES reported this on 21 June. That day, Nicholas Burns, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said "this is the second leak of information following one last week" and sternly denounced the undisclosed leakers as "narrow-minded and gutless." He also deplored the leakers, saying: "They have leaked the information to THE WASHINGTON TIMES, thus knifing some State Department officials and causing inter-agency bickering." When questioned which agency had leaked the information, he backtracked, saying: "There is a suspicion, but I cannot tell."

THE WASHINGTON TIMES reported the PRC's sales of M11 missiles to Pakistan last week, which has placed the Clinton administration in an embarrassing situation. Prior to that, the Clinton administration decided not to impose sanctions on the PRC despite Beijing's sales of nuclear equipment to Pakistan. The administration made the decision in the belief that it need not incur the PRC's displeasure at a time when it acutely needed Beijing's diplomatic cooperation over the North Korean issue and other matters.

North Korea and Egypt occupy an important position as far as U.S. diplomacy is concerned. Egypt is a major partner of the United States when it comes to U.S. policy in the Middle East. The United States gives Egypt $2.1 billion in assistance annually, the biggest recipient after Israel. Moreover, the United States is not in a position to distance itself from Egypt because all the accomplishments it has achieved in the Middle East peace process are at stake since [former Israeli Prime Minister] Shim'on Peres has lost power.

North Korea's case is more tricky. The Clinton administration has boasted about the North Korean nuclear freeze, a result of the Geneva agreement, as its greatest diplomatic accomplishment, and has maintained a policy of "embracing North Korea."

However, as North Korea's exports of missile equipment have been disclosed, the position of the Clinton administration has become less convincing. Moreover, North Korea's credibility will again decrease because the information on the North Korea-Egypt missile deal was leaked while North Korea-U.S. missile negotiations were under way. Nevertheless, the Clinton administration will seek to solve the problem concerning North Korea not through sanctions, but through persuasion. However, this strategy will not go down well with the Republican Party.

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