Clinton and the Nuclear Scientist

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Dr. Siegfried Hecker of Stanford University yesterday about North Korea. The nuclear expert was one of a few scientists invited to Yongbyon to take a peek at North Korea’s new uranium-enrichment facility. Hecker’s first reaction when he visited on November 12 was, “Oh my God, they actually did what they said they were going to do.” The North Koreans took pains to point out that the settings on the machines inside the facilities were set for low-enriched fuel, not the highly enriched uranium necessary for making weapons. And they wanted nuclear scientists to see it firsthand and then tell the world about it. Acting Deputy State Department spokesman Mark Toner wouldn’t reveal exactly what Hecker told Clinton, but he said “she was obviously briefed on the details of his visit to North Korea.” Clinton had a regular meeting yesterday with National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that touched on North Korea, and the secretary of state was expected to make “calls to some of her counterparts in the region.”

In Beijing, U.S. envoy Stephen Bosworth reiterated that Washington is “firmly committed to the defense of the Republic of Korea and to the maintenance of peace and stability in northeast Asia.” According to Toner, Bosworth met with Chinese Special Representative on Korean Peninsular Affairs Wu Dawei among others.

Yesterday, General David Petraeus, commander of forces in Afghanistan, said that alliance forces are employing an “anaconda strategy” on the Taliban. The goal is to “squeeze the life” out of the militants. He also said that Pakistan has recognized “the need for more operations in North Waziristan,” the base from which insurgents are mounting attacks on NATO troops across the border in Afghanistan. According to the general, the Pakistani security forces have already launched some “very impressive counterinsurgency operations.” But as impressive as they may be, there is more to be done.