The Rosett Report

So, Kim Jong Il, How About That Fake Money?

On the North Korea front, the coming week promises all sorts of diplomatic thrills, now that Pyongyang has promised — again — to stop its nuclear bomb program in exchange for promises from the U.S. to send — again — hundreds of millions worth of aid and to work toward U.S. diplomatic recognition down the road. Pyongyang’s nuclear negotiator Kim Kye Gwan is now in the U.S., due to meet Monday with the U.S. State Department’s envoy to the six-party talks, Chris Hill. The IAEA’s Mohamed El Baradei is due Tuesday in Pyongyang.

We’re told, as usual, that this time North Korea really wants to come clean. Oh really? If that’s so, then here’s a suggestion for an easy, upfront, good-faith gift from Kim Kye Gwan — one that ought to be a pre-condition for any talks at all. How about North Korea’s regime handing over the printing presses it’s been using to produce millions upon millions in counterfeit U.S. currency?

For years, according to our own Treasury (see page seven), North Korea has been counterfeiting U.S. money, churning out high-quality fake U.S. banknotes and laundering them into world markets — including notes with a face value of $2 million seized just last year at the port of Los Angeles. Treasury has been fighting to stop this racket by tracking the fake banknotes and freezing North Korea out of the international banking system. Treasury’s efforts, which have been paying off, are now being undercut by State’s desire to cut a deal with Kim, whatever the price not only in dollars, but in U.S. credibility and genuine security.

So how about it, Mr. Hill? What’s the problem, Mr. Kim? Ship the presses from North Korea to NY, preferably at Pyongyang’s expense (let Kim dip into his cognac, pleasure-palace and bomb budgets, and pay up in real currency). If Condoleezza Rice still has any backbone left at all, the U.S. could maybe offer these presses on loan to the UN, as one of those rotating educational exhibits for visitors to the main lobby. They would also make a great backdrop for any future talks Chris Hill might want to hold — a sort of handy tangible reminder of what North Korea’s promises have been worth in the past.

As it is, Kim Jong Il is once again about to profit at American expense from his nuclear blackmail racket — a precedent that Iran’s regime, and others, must be noting with keen interest. We, the U.S. taxpayers, are once again being invited — as Bush reverts to the failed policies of Bill Clinton — to avert our eyes from North Korea’s mind-bending record of extortion, murder, and lies, while our tax dollars pay for aid that may well go to bulk up even further Kim’s weapons programs and his military. Under the new U.S. diplomacy, it seems membership in the murderous axis of evil is no longer a one-way ticket to history’s graveyard of discarded lies, but a bargaining chip to be cashed in at the U.S. State Department. If we are going to go down this road, couldn’t we at least literally get some of our money’s worth? — What about those printing presses?