... the Bush administration last week found itself tamping down the hyperbole it initiated. Reports from North Korea indicated that Kim Jong Il's regime had moved an advanced new rocket, possibly capable of hitting the United States, into position for its first missile test since 1998.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice initiated a media frenzy by declaring that if the test went ahead, "it would be a very serious matter and indeed a provocative act."
By the end of the week, however, other U.S. officials played down the threat. Two counter proliferation officials, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive subject matter, noted that intelligence agencies believe that although North Korea has the material to build eight or more nuclear bombs, there is no indication that Kim's regime has tested a nuclear device.
Nor is there evidence that North Korean scientists have figured out how to build a nuclear warhead small enough to load into the nose cone of a missile.
A European diplomat, who also asked for anonymity because of intelligence sensitivities, said the missiles were built using decades-old Soviet technology and that they are powered by primitive liquid-fuel systems.
By late last week, Vice President Dick Cheney was reassuring CNN that "North Korean missile capabilities are fairly rudimentary."
Monday, June 26, 2006
Unknown | Monday, June 26, 2006 |