U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld served on the board of a
Swiss company that in 2000 sold light water nuclear reactors to the
government of North Korea, which critics?including Pentagon
hardliners?say could be used to produce nuclear weapons.
Rumsfeld?s involvement in the $200 million deal with the
Zurich-based engineering company ABB is seen as an embarrassment to
the Bush administration, which vehemently opposed the deal during
the 2000 presidential campaign, reports the London-based
Guardian. ?One could draw the conclusion that economic and
personal interests took precedent over non-proliferation,? said
Steve LaMontagne of the Center for Arms Control and
Rumsfeld sat on the ABB board from 1990 to 2001, earning
$190,000 a year. He left to join the Bush administration. Asked
about the reactor deal, the defense secretary told the
Guardian that he ?did not recall it being brought before
the board at any time.?
But an ABB spokesman said that ?board members were informed
about the project which would deliver systems and equipment for
light water reactors,? and the Guardian noted that at the
time of the deal, ABB?s chief executive Goran Lindahl made a
high-profile trip to Pyongyang to announce a ?wide-ranging,
long-term cooperation agreement? with the North Korean
The ABB deal was part of the Clinton administration?s policy of
stabilizing the region by offering North Korea oil and light water
reactors in exchange for access by inspectors to the government?s
atomic facilities. The policy was vehemently opposed by George W.
Bush and his foreign policy advisors?including Rumsfeld?s deputy,
Paul Wolfowitz?who argued that the light water reactors could
produce weapons-grade plutonium.
And despite placing North Korea in its ?Axis of Evil,? the Bush
administration apparently has fewer concerns about ABB?s reactors
now that Rummy?s running things at the Pentagon. In January, the
president authorized $3.5 million to keep the project going.