Clinton = Weak On North Korea

- January 6, 2016


  • Yesterday, the rogue state of North Korea claimed it detonated a hydrogen bomb.
  • Despite promising an "aggressive effort" to combat North Korea's nuclear ambitions during her confirmation hearing, as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton largely ignored North Korea with a policy of "strategic patience" that did not work as the rogue state continued its nuclear testing.
  • Clinton opposed calls by U.S. allies in the region and a bipartisan group of lawmakers to place North Korea on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
  • The only accomplishment Clinton can point to is a largely symbolic U.N. Security Council resolution that analysts agreed was toothless.
  • While Clinton was Secretary, former President Bill Clinton tried to cash in with a paid speaking event in North Korea.​


Over Night, North Korea Claimed It Successfully Conducted A Nuclear Bomb Test

Last Night, North Korea Said It "Successfully Carried Out A Hydrogen Bomb Test, Which If Confirmed, Will Be A First For The Reclusive Regime And A Significant Advancement For Its Military Ambitions." "North Korea says it has successfully carried out a hydrogen bomb test, which if confirmed, will be a first for the reclusive regime and a significant advancement for its military ambitions. A hydrogen bomb is more powerful than plutonium weapons, which is what North Korea used in its three previous underground nuclear tests." (Euan McKirdy, "North Korea Announces It Conducted Nuclear Test," CNN , 1/6/16)

  • CNN Headline: "North Korea Announces It Conducted Nuclear Test" (Euan McKirdy, "North Korea Announces It Conducted Nuclear Test," CNN , 1/6/16)

"A Hydrogen Bomb Is More Powerful Than Plutonium Weapons, Which Is What North Korea Used In Its Three Previous Underground Nuclear Tests." (Euan McKirdy, "North Korea Announces It Conducted Nuclear Test," CNN , 1/6/16)

NOTE: U.S. Officials Say Initial Tests Cast Doubt On North Korea's Claim Of Detonating A Hydrogen Bomb. "Initial test results suggest that an explosion in North Korean was not a hydrogen bomb, as the state government there has claimed, U.S. officials told ABC News. The initial determination of the tests, which were conducted by the United States and included seismic activity, is that it had a nuclear weapon yield in the single-digit kilotons, a U.S. official said." (Luis Martinez, "North Korean Test Not Likely A Hydrogen Bomb, US Officials Say," ABC News, 1/6/16)


"Other Pressing Issues, Such As North Korea's Nuclear Program, [Clinton] Simply Put Off." "Indeed, Clinton consistently avoided getting her hands dirty with direct mediation. She happily agreed to leave key negotiations in crisis spots to special envoys, charging George Mitchell with overseeing the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio and relying on Richard Holbrooke to bring about a political settlement in Afghanistan and Pakistan. She rarely stepped in as each of them failed to make much headway. Other pressing issues, such as North Korea's nuclear program, she simply put off." (Michael Hirsh, "The Clinton Legacy," Foreign Affairs, May/June 2013)

  • Clinton's Policy Of "Strategic Patience" With North Korea "Did Not Work." "Other pressing issues, such as North Korea's nuclear program, she simply put off. Her policy of 'strategic patience' with North Korea, under which Washington refused to offer any new incentives to Pyongyang in the hopes of restarting nuclear disarmament talks, did not work. The problem festered for four years, and as soon as Clinton left office, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un greeted her successor with yet another nuclear test." (Michael Hirsh, "The Clinton Legacy," Foreign Affairs, May/June 2013)
  • "The Problem Festered For Four Years, And As Soon As Clinton Left Office, The North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un Greeted Her Successor With Yet Another Nuclear Test." (Michael Hirsh, "The Clinton Legacy," Foreign Affairs, May/June 2013)

Clinton Touted The Importance Of A Non-Nuclear North Korea And Vowed To Work "To End" Their Nuclear Program

At Her January 2009 Confirmation Hearing, Clinton Said She Would "Embark Upon A Very Aggressive Effort" To "End The North Korean Nuclear Program." CLINTON: "Our goal is to end the North Korean nuclear program, both the plutonium reprocessing program and the highly enriched uranium program which there is reason to believe exists, although never quite verified, and it is our strong belief that the six-party talks, particularly the role that China is currently playing, along with our close allies South Korea and Japan, is a vehicle for us to exert pressure on North Korea in a way that is more likely to alter their behavior. Again, I have no illusions about that. I think it takes tough reality-based diplomacy to determine what is doable. We have got to end North Korea as a proliferator… So we will -- we will embark upon a very aggressive effort to try to determine the best way forward to achieve our objectives with them." (Committee On Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 1/13/09)

In 2011, Clinton Touted The "Importance Of Promoting Nuclear Nonproliferation On The Korean Peninsula" And The Commitment To See That North Korea Take Steps To Denuclearize. CLINTON: "Let me begin with my meetings with the president and foreign minister. The alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea is a lynchpin of security, stability, and prosperity in the Asia Pacific. This alliance has never been stronger. President Lee, Foreign Minister Kim, and I discussed issues of global and regional importance, as we always do when we have the opportunity to exchange views. And we particularly focused on the importance of promoting nuclear nonproliferation on the Korean Peninsula. I know we recently passed the one-year anniversary of the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island. Let me reaffirm that the United States stands with our ally, and we look to North Korea to take concrete steps that promote peace and stability and denuclearization."(Secretary Hillary Clinton, Press Availability Remarks , Busan, South Korea, 11/30/11)

But North Korea Made Major Advancements In Nuclear Weapons Under Clinton's Watch

In April 2009, North Korea Launched A Multistage Rocket. "Defying weeks of international pressure, North Korea launched a multistage rocket today, a move that the U.S. and its allies fear masked a test of its ability to deliver nuclear weapons." (John M. Glionna, "North Korea Launches Rocket," The Los Angeles Times, 4/5/09)

  • The North Korean Government Claimed It Was For A Satellite Launch, But Some Analysts Said Their Rocket Could Deliver A Warhead To The Western U.S. "Pyongyang had said it planned to put a communications satellite into space. But many analysts predicted that the launch would be a test of the regime's ability to deliver a warhead with the three-stage Taepodong 2, which is estimated to have a range of more than 4,000 miles. Some analysts say that with a light payload, it could reach the western U.S." (John M. Glionna, "North Korea Launches Rocket," The Los Angeles Times, 4/5/09)

In May 2009, North Korea Announced It "Successfully Conducted" A Second Nuclear Test, "Defying International Warnings." "North Korea announced on Monday that it had successfully conducted its second nuclear test, defying international warnings and dramatically raising the stakes in a global effort to get the recalcitrant Communist state to give up its nuclear weapons program." (Choe Sang-Hun, "North Korea Claims To Conduct Second Nuclear Test," The New York Times, 5/24/09)

In December 2010, The Obama Administration "Concluded That North Korea's New Plant To Enrich Nuclear Fuel Uses Technology That Is 'Significantly More Advanced'" Than Iran's Program. "The Obama administration has concluded that North Korea's new plant to enrich nuclear fuel uses technology that is 'significantly more advanced' than what Iran has struggled over two decades to assemble, according to senior administration and intelligence officials." (David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, "U.S. Concludes N. Korea Has More Nuclear Sites," The New York Times, 12/14/10)

  • "These Conclusions Strongly Suggest That North Korea Has Evaded Layers Of Economic Sanctions And Efforts To Intercept Sea And Air Shipments…" "These conclusions strongly suggest that North Korea has evaded layers of economic sanctions and efforts to intercept sea and air shipments, an effort begun in the Bush administration and accelerated after a United Nations Security Council resolution passed last year after the North's second nuclear test." (David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, "U.S. Concludes N. Korea Has More Nuclear Sites," The New York Times, 12/14/10)

In November 2011, North Korea "Reported Brisk Progress In Building A New Nuclear Reactor And Producing Enriched Uranium," Which Marked "The Latest Sign That North Korea [Was] Pressing Ahead With Its Nuclear Program." "North Korea reported brisk progress in building a new nuclear reactor and producing enriched uranium on Wednesday. Although the statement appeared to invite international inspectors to verify that the facilities are for peaceful purposes, it was the latest sign that North Korea is pressing ahead with its nuclear program." (Choe Sang-Hun, "North Korea Reports Progress On New Reactor," The New York Times, 11/30/11)

In April 2012, North Korea Had A Failed Rocket Launch Attempt, Which Marked "The End Of The Obama Administration's Year-Long Effort" To Engage The Rogue State. "North Korea's apparently unsuccessful launch of an Unha-3 rocket with a 'satellite' attached marks not only the 100th birthday of the country's founder Kim Il Sung, but also the end of the Obama administration's year-long effort to open up a new path for negotiations with the Hermit Kingdom. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned earlier Thursday that the promised launch by North Korea would scuttle the deal the Obama administration negotiated with Pyongyang and announced on Leap Day Feb. 29, which would have provided North Korea with 240,000 tons of U.S. food assistance over the next year. She lamented that the North Koreans had thrown away the progress made." (Josh Rogin, "North Korean Missile Launch Torpedoes Obama's Engagement Strategy," Foreign Policy, 4/12/12)

In May 2012, "Resumed Construction Of A Nuclear Reactor That Can Be Used To Expand The Country's Nuclear Weapons Program." "North Korea has resumed construction of a nuclear reactor that can be used to expand the country's nuclear weapons program, an American-based institute said Thursday, citing the latest satellite imagery of the building site. In November, North Korea reported brisk progress in the building of a small light water reactor in its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, its capital. If completed and operational, the plant would give North Korea a new source of spent nuclear fuel from which plutonium, a fuel for nuclear weapons, can be extracted." (Choe Sang-Hun, "North Korea Said To Resume Work On Nuclear Reactor," The New York Times , 5/17/12)

In December 2012, "Surprised And Angered The International Community…By Launching A Long-Range Rocket." "North Korea surprised and angered the international community Wednesday by launching a long-range rocket that may have put an object in orbit. The secretive North Korean regime said the rocket had successfully blasted off from a space center on its west coast and claimed the satellite it was carrying had entered its intended orbit. The launch followed a botched attempt in April and came just days after Pyongyang suggested it could be delayed." (Jethro Mullen and Paul Armstrong, "North Korea Carries Out Controversial Rocket Launch," CNN, 12/12/12)

  • "Many Nations, Such As The United States And South Korea, Consider The Launch To Be A Cover For Testing Ballistic Missile Technology." "Many nations, such as the United States and South Korea, consider the launch to be a cover for testing ballistic missile technology. The nuclear-armed North has insisted its aim was to place a scientific satellite in space." (Jethro Mullen and Paul Armstrong, "North Korea Carries Out Controversial Rocket Launch," CNN, 12/12/12)

Then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Said On North Korea That "We're Within An Inch Of War Almost Every Day"

Then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta On North Korea, 2012: "We're Within An Inch Of War Almost Every Day In That Part Of The World." "The United States is prepared for 'any contingency' when it comes to dealing with North Korea, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told CNN. 'We're within an inch of war almost every day in that part of the world, and we just have to be very careful about what we say and what we do,' Panetta said Wednesday on 'The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.'" ("Panetta: 'We're Within An Inch Of War Almost Every Day,'" CNN, 4/19/12)


As Secretary, Clinton Refused To Add North Korea Back To The State Sponsors Of Terrorism List

Clinton On Adding North Korea Back To The State Sponsors Of Terrorism List, May 2010: "The United States Will Apply The Law As The Facts Warrant. … If The Evidence Warrants, The Department Of State Will Take Action." QUESTION: "Secretary Clinton, on North and South Korea, can you specify precisely what kinds of things the U.S. Government will look at as it studies policies and authority regarding North Korea? Are you, for example, specifically looking at the possibility of putting them back on the state-sponsor of terrorism list? … CLINTON: "Well, Arshad, we are obviously continuing to review and consult closely on these matters, some of which are quite sensitive. And I look forward to discussing them in depth when I am in Seoul on Wednesday. We will provide additional details at the appropriate time. With respect to your specific question about the state-sponsor of terrorism list, the United States will apply the law as the facts warrant. The legislation, as you know, sets out specific criteria for the Secretary of State to base a determination. And the Department of State continually reviews North Korea's actions to determine if the evidence supports its designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. If the evidence warrants, the Department of State will take action." (Hillary Clinton, Remarks, Beijing, China, 5/24/10)

  • Clinton: "The Legislation, As You Know, Sets Out Specific Criteria For The Secretary Of State To Base A Determination." (Hillary Clinton, Remarks, Beijing, China, 5/24/10)

"What Clinton Is Saying Here Is That The Original Reasons That North Korea Was Put On The List…Are Not Enough To Justify Putting Pyongyang Back On The List Today." "What Clinton is saying here is that the original reasons that North Korea was put on the list, when they blew up half the South Korean cabinet in Rangoon in 1983 and then bombed Korean Air Flight 858 in 1987, are not enough to justify putting Pyongyang back on the list today. Nor are the other reasons that the State Department has included in reports as recently as 2007 good enough for relisting now, namely that North Korea still hasn't answered for 12 Japanese abductees and still harbors members of the Japanese Red Army." (Josh Rogin, "Why The State Department Won't Put North Korea Back On The Terror List," Foreign Policy, 5/25/10)

Lawmakers And Allies Urged Clinton's State Department To List North Korea As A State Sponsor Of Terrorism

In 2009, Eight Republican Senators Urged Clinton To Add North Korea Back On The State Department's State Sponsors Of Terrorism List. "Dear Madame Secretary: We are writing to request that you immediately place the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) back on the State Department's State Sponsors of Terrorism List. As you know, the DPRK has never ended the activities for which it was listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. A number of reports have demonstrated this fact." (Sen. Jim DeMint, Letter To Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton , 6/3/09)

In June 2009, Democrat Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) "Indicat[ed] That The Obama Administration Should Look At Putting North Korea Back On The" State Department's State Sponsors Of Terrorism List. "'Any concessions that were made to them previously in exchange for pledges of better behavior should be rescinded,' Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told The Hill, indicating that the Obama administration should look at putting North Korea back on the list. 'Dealing with the North Koreans is very aggravating, but at least they are not suicidal,' Bayh said, adding that the U.S. should not give into 'belligerent behavior.'" (Roxana Tiron And J. Taylor Rushing, "Congress, Pentagon Ramp Up North Korea Pressure," The Hill, 6/2/09)

In June 2009, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) Said North Korea Should Be Placed "Back On The Terror List." "Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) stressed that North Korea, which was dubbed by Bush as one of three countries in the 'axis of evil,' should be placed 'back on the terror list' in order to 'make sure they're not able to export their technology or their equipment.'" (Roxana Tiron And J. Taylor Rushing, "Congress, Pentagon Ramp Up North Korea Pressure," The Hill, 6/2/09)

In June 2009, Japan Said It Hoped The US Would Again List North Korea As A State Sponsor Of Terrorism. "Japan said Monday it hoped the United States would again list North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, as Washington considered the move following Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests… Japan's top government spokesman Takeo Kawamura said that 'we, as the Japanese government, feel the need' for Pyongyang to be put back on the list." ("Japan Wants NKorea Back On US Terror Watchlist: Govt," Agence France Presse, 6/8/09)

In May 2010, Seoul Urged The U.S. To List North Korea As A State Sponsor Of Terrorism After A Pyongyang Submarine Torpedoed A South Korean Warship. "South Korean officials are pushing the Obama administration to put North Korea back on a US terrorism blacklist after Seoul's finding that Pyongyang torpedoed a South Korean warship." (Foster Klug, "SK Wants US To Return NKorea To Terror List," The Associated Press, 5/21/10)

  • NOTE: The State Department Said That Pyongyang's Sinking Of A South Korean Warship Was "Was The Act Of One State's Military Against Another And Not An Act Of Terrorism." "The State Department said the March sinking of the South Korean frigate Cheonan by a reported torpedo from a North Korean submarine was a 'provocative action' and a violation of the truce that ended the Korean war. But it added that the sinking was the act of one state's military against another and not an act of terrorism. Thus, it is not grounds to put North Korea back on the U.S. 'state sponsors of terrorism' list as some in South Korea had wanted, spokesman P.J. Crowley said." (Matthew Lee, "US: Sinking Of SKorean Warship Not Terrorism," The Associated Press, 6/28/10)


In June 2009, The UN Security Council Adopted Sanctions Against North Korea For Its Nuclear Test

On June 12, 2009, The UN Security Council Passed Resolution 1874, Which Called For Tougher Inspections Of North Korean Cargo, A Tighter Arms Embargo And Targeted Financial Sanctions. "Resolution 1874 passed Friday, which does not authorise the use of force, calls on UN member states to expand sanctions imposed after the North's initial nuclear test in October 2006. It calls for tougher inspections of cargo suspected of containing banned missile- and nuclear-related items, a tighter arms embargo and new targeted financial curbs to choke off revenue for the nuclear and missile sectors. It also 'demands that the DPRK not conduct any further nuclear test or any launch using ballistic missile technology' and abandon all nuclear weapons and programmes 'in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.'" (Park Chan-Kyong, "NKorea Vows To Build More Nuclear Bombs After UN Sanctions," Agence France Presse, 6/13/09)

The New York Times ' Neil MacFarquhar: "The Sanctions Basically Fleshed Out Measures That Were First Listed In A Security Council Resolution Passed After North Korea's First Nuclear Test In 2006. They Were Never Enacted, Because The North Agreed To Participate In Talks To Dismantle The Program." (Neil MacFarquhar, "North Korea Could Face New Round Of Sanctions," The New York Times, 6/10/09)

The Toughest Measures Of Resolution 1874 Were Either Voluntary Or Included Significant Loopholes

In June 2009, The UN Security Council Agreed To Text For A Resolution "After Language On The Inspection Of North Korean Cargo Ships In International Waters Was Diluted." "The U.S. and its allies on Wednesday agreed with China and Russia on a text hammered out during two weeks of intense negotiations. Moscow and Beijing consented to the U.S. draft after language on the inspection of North Korean cargo ships in international waters was diluted." (Joe Lauria, "U.N. Council Agrees On North Korea Sanctions," The Wall Street Journal, 6/11/09)

"A Previous Version Said The Security Council 'Authorized' All U.N. Nations To Inspect The Ships For Nuclear-Related Material And Other Contraband, With The Consent Of The Flag State. The Agreed Text Merely 'Calls Upon' Member Governments To Do So." (Joe Lauria, "U.N. Council Agrees On North Korea Sanctions," The Wall Street Journal, 6/11/09)

The US "Had Sought A Mandatory Ban On New Financial Transactions," But "The Resolution Only Calls On Governments To Comply." "The U.S. and its allies had sought a mandatory ban on new financial transactions, including loans to North Korea, with waivers for development or humanitarian aims. The resolution only calls on governments to comply." (Joe Lauria, "U.N. Council Agrees On North Korea Sanctions," The Wall Street Journal, 6/11/09)

Resolution 1874 Exempted "Small Arms And Light Weapons" But Required "States To Notify The Security Council Sanctions Committee" Before "Selling, Supplying Or Transferring Small Arms To The DPRK." "The text however makes an exception for 'small arms and light weapons and their related materiel' although it requires states to notify the Security Council sanctions committee 'at least five days prior to selling, supplying or transferring small arms to the DPRK.'" ("Key Points Of NKorea Sanctions Draft," Agence France Presse, 6/10/09)

Clinton Said She Was "Pleased" By The Sanctions Resolution

In Hard Choices, Clinton Praised The Sanctions And Noted She Was "Pleased We Were Finally Able To Muster A Unified International Response." "By mid-June, our efforts paid off. All the members of the UN Security Council agreed to impose additional sanctions. We had to make some concessions to get Chinese and Russian backing, but this was still the toughest measure ever imposed on North Korea, and I was pleased we were finally able to muster a unified international response." (Hillary Clinton, Hard Choices, 2014, p. 55)

Analysts And Experts Disagreed With Clinton's Assessments

The Economist : "The United States Expends Its Diplomatic Energies In Negotiations Over The Regime's Tinpot Nuclear And Missile Programme, With Little To Show For The Effort." ("North Korea's Gulag: Never Again?" The Economist, 4/21/12)

The Associated Press ' William Foreman: "The United Nations' New Sanctions Against North Korea To Punish It For Its Latest Atomic Test Are Mostly A Symbolic, Feel-Good Gesture By The International Community The Moves Are Unlikely To Stop The Stalinist Regime From Trading Weapons With Rogue Nations Or Hobble Its Already Crumbling Economy." (William Foreman, "UN Sanctions On NKorea May Be Futile," The Associated Press, 6/13/09)

Andrei Lankov, A Professor At Kookmin University In South Korea, Called Resolution 1874 A "Symbolic Gesture." "This is not to say, of course, that Resolution 1874 was a mistake. It was a necessary - even somewhat useful - symbolic gesture, and the United Nations is largely about political and diplomatic symbolism, so it is only natural that U.N. bureaucrats conducted a proper ritual. However, one should distinguish between actual policies and symbolic actions, and not pin excessive hopes on the latter." (Andrei Lankov, "Lee, Obama Have Few Tools For Nuclear-Free N. Korea," The Korea Times, 6/18/09)

Kim Keun-sik, A North Korea Expert At The Kyungnam University In Seoul, Said "Sanctions Won't Bring North Korea To Its Knees." "'Sanctions won't bring North Korea to its knees,' said Kim Keun-sik, a specialist on North Korea at Kyungnam University in Seoul. 'The North knows this very well, from having lived with economic sanctions of one sort or another for the past 60 years.'" (Martin Fackler and Choe Sang-Hun, "Will Sanctions Ever Work On North Korea," The New York Times, 6/12/09)


Bill Clinton Was Paid For More Than 200 Speeches While Hillary Was Secretary Of State. "Mr. Clinton was paid for more than 200 speeches while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, according to his wife's disclosure forms." (James Grimaldi And Rebecca Ballhaus, "Speaking Fees Meet Politics For Clintons," The Wall Street Journal, 12/30/15)

  • State Department Ethics Office Documents Show That At Least Five Of Bill Clinton's Speeches Were Turned Down, Including Proposed Talks Sponsored By North Korea. "Documents released thus far by the State Department show the ethics office turned down five of his speech requests, including proposed talks sponsored by North Korea, China and the Republic of Congo." (James Grimaldi And Rebecca Ballhaus, "Speaking Fees Meet Politics For Clintons," The Wall Street Journal, 12/30/15)

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