Two stories reported as news today aren’t particularly new. President Bush was simply repeating the talking points.
Michael Abramowitz in the Washington Post – Bush: Revealing Reactor Was Meant to Pressure N. Korea
Steven Lee Myers in the New York Times - Bush Says Syria Nuclear Disclosure Intended to Prod North Korea and Iran
President Bush said yesterday that his administration's disclosure of secret information last week about suspected North Korean assistance for a Syrian nuclear reactor was designed to pressure Pyongyang to come clean on its nuclear activities.Myers:
At a Rose Garden news conference, Bush also said he wanted to send a message to Iran to cooperate with international efforts to limit proliferation, and to Syria to help stabilize Iraq and Lebanon….
Bush said the disclosures last week should make it "abundantly clear" to North Korea that "we may know more about you than you think, and therefore it's essential that you have a complete disclosure on not only your plutonium activities, but proliferation, as well as enrichment activities."
President Bush said Tuesday that last week’s disclosure of what senior American officials called evidence of a nearly completed nuclear reactor in Syria was intended to warn North Korea and Iran about the dangers of spreading nuclear weapons….All he’s doing is repeating the talking points from the press briefing the other day.
Making the first remarks in public about the Israeli attack by any American official, Mr. Bush said that his administration maintained a cloak of secrecy to avoid the risk of further military conflict in the region, including possible Syrian retaliation against Israel. He said that risk of conflict “was reduced” now….
“We also wanted to advance certain policy objectives through the disclosures, and one would be to the North Koreans to make it abundantly clear that we, we may know more about you than you think,” Mr. Bush said at a White House news conference….
Mr. Bush said that the disclosure of a covert Syrian reactor, which Syria has denied, should persuade other countries to support United Nations Security Council resolutions intended to keep Iran and other countries from developing nuclear arms.
“We have an interest in sending a message to Iran and the world for that matter about just how destabilizing a nuclear proliferation would be in the Middle East,” he said.
We were concerned that if knowledge of the existence and then destruction of the reactor became public and was confirmed by sources that the information would spread quickly and Syria would feel great pressure to retaliate…Not much difference, even in the wording.
We are at the point in the Six-Party talks where we believe going public will strengthen our negotiators as they try to get an accurate accounting of North Korea’s nuclear programs. We believe and hope that it will encourage North Korea to acknowledge its proliferation activity, but also to provide a more complete and accurate disclosure of their plutonium activities and their enrichment activities as well.
With respect to Iran, the Syrian episode reminds us of the ability of states to obtain nuclear capability covertly and how destabilizing the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East would be. And obviously everyone is concerned about that with respect to Iran, and we hope that disclosure will underscore that the international community needs to rededicate itself to ending Iran’s nuclear enrichment activities, and needs to take further steps to ensure that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons. And countries can start by the full implementation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions already dealing with Iranian nuclear activities, which are not being implemented as aggressively and fully as they should.
…Disclosure of Syria’s nuclear activities, we hope, will help us in convincing other nations to join us in pressuring Syria to change its policies.
I’ll send a link to this post to the two reporters. Seems to me that they might have mentioned somewhere in their accounts that Bush's words were pretty much identical to those in the press briefing.
Update (5/1/08): Michael Abramowitz provides a response of sorts. The second question (Santa Fe, NM) is mine. He seems to be tolerant of the blogosphere, or at least not ready to condemn us out of hand. Also check out his response to the next-to-last question. But he's not asking the hard questions of President Bush and others.