North Korea’s next nuclear test came not in 2009, nor in 2010, nor 2011, nor 2012, but almost four years later — in February, 2013. The next launch of a Taepodong-2 came in 2012, three years after that sanctions resolution. As for the escalation of uranium enrichment, North Korea advertised it to the world in late 2010 by way of showing off a uranium enrichment facility to a visiting American nuclear physicist, Siegfried Hecker. But when, exactly, did the “escalation” begin? Before or after the 2009 UN sanctions resolution? Unclear.
What does seem a good bet is that this was all part of a long-term program going back to the 1990s, when North Korea was visited by A.Q. Khan, godfather of Pakistan’s uranium-based nuclear program. In 2002, when accused by the U.S. of having a uranium enrichment program, North Korea first confessed to it before denying it, before ultimately going public with it in 2010.
Yes, it is much tougher for U.S. authorities to acquire precise information about North Korea’s weapons projects than to spy on an American reporter covering the State Department. But the zeal with which the Justice Department most inappropriately went after a reporter is exactly the kind of effort one might wish to have the CIA putting into better information-gathering on North Korea. Maybe CIA and Justice should swap portfolios?