February 7, 2016

UPDATE: North Korea Tests Nuclear Weapon And Clinton’s Record

UPDATE: Last night, North Korea launched a long-range rocket “that the United Nations and others call a cover for a banned test of technology for a missile that could strike the U.S. mainland.” The Associated Press added that the launch is viewed as the just the next steps in North Korea’s creation of a “nuclear armed long-range missile arsenal.”

This most recent threat came just a month after North Korea announced that it “had conducted a hydrogen bomb test, a defiant and surprising move,” raising concerns over the country’s threat to the U.S.:

North Korean nuclear tests worry Washington and others because each new blast is seen as pushing North Korea’s scientists and engineers closer to their goal of an arsenal of nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States.

During her tenure as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton failed repeatedly to manage North Korea’s nuclear threat. In May 2009, just a few months after Clinton became Secretary of State, North Korea conducted its “second nuclear test,” drawing the condemnation of countries around the world, including China and Russia, and a new round of sanctions. In her 2014 book, Hard Choices, Clinton acknowledged making concessions on the sanctions but praised them anyway:

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.

Several media outlets and North Korea experts panned the sanctions as weak and “symbolic.”

In March 2012, in an effort to bribe North Korea into ending its nuclear program, Clinton praised the country’s announcement that it would “freeze its nuclear and missile tests… and allow the return of U.N. nuclear inspectors” in exchange for food aid. North Korea announced a failed long-range missile test only a few weeks later, forcing the administration to sheepishly cancel delivery of food aid to the country.

Additionally, just before Clinton left the State Department at then end of January 2013, North Korea said it had “no other option” other than to conduct a third nuclear test in response to new sanctions from the U.N. Security Council. Clinton said she “had long conversations” with other Pacific powers about the “significant action” mentioned in the U.N. Security Council resolution if North Korea would conduct a third test, but added “we still hope there is still a way to convince the North Korean regime not to pursue this path.” Despite Clinton’s hopes and “threats,” North Korea conducted its third nuclear test just a few weeks later.

In the summer of 2012, despite a remarkably contentious diplomatic relationship, a Bill Clinton aide emailed Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, asking for approval for the former president to give a paid speech in North Korea. The Clinton Foundation aide repeatedly requested approval for the speech, demonstrating a complete disregard for the nation’s human rights abuses, but was denied.

During her confirmation hearing, Clinton said, “our goal is to end the North Korean nuclear program” and pledged “a very aggressive effort” to do so. With North Korea’s nuclear program once again raising concerns, Clinton’s clear failure to contain the country’s nuclear program as Secretary of State raises questions about Clinton’s ability to protect the U.S. from the North Korean nuclear threat.