Missed Opportunities: Washington Politics and Nuclear Proliferation

The determination of one of the world's least rational regimes to build nuclear weapons highlights the importance of developing an effective policy to control proliferation and to respond to proliferants when our efforts at control fail.

Issue: Winter 1993-1994

In his first press conference after winning the election, Bill Clinton listed his top five foreign policy priorities. Third on his list, after cutting the defense budget and reducing nuclear arsenals, was "working hard to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction." That President Clinton gave this task such salience reflected the increasing seriousness of the proliferation threat.

In recent months, the proliferation problem has become specific and acute. In early November, as North Korea made menacing noises about the possibility of UN sanctions and increased its troops along the DMZ, President Clinton acknowledged that North Korea's likely development of nuclear weapons is a "grave issue" for the United States. At the same time, he admitted that there is "a lot of disagreement about what we should do" to stop them.

You must be a subscriber of The National Interest to access this article. If you are already a subscriber, please activate your online access. Not a subscriber? Become a subscriber today!