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from here on January 23, 2009
The Swiss-based ABB on Friday told swissinfo that Rumsfeld was involved with the company in early 2000, when it netted a $200 million (SFr270million) contract with Pyongyang.
The ABB contract was to deliver equipment and services for two nuclear power stations at Kumho, on North Korea’s east coast.
Rumsfeld – who is one of the Bush administration’s most strident “hardliners” on North Korea – was a member of ABB’s board between 1990 and February 2001, when he left to take up his current post.
Wolfram Eberhardt, a spokesman for ABB, told swissinfo that Rumsfeld “was at nearly all the board meetings” during his decade-long involvement with the company.
Maybe, maybe not
However, he declined to indicate whether Rumsfeld was made aware of the nuclear contract with North Korea.
“This is a good question, but I couldn’t comment on that because we never disclose the protocols of the board meetings,” Eberhardt said.
“Maybe this was a discussion point of the board, maybe not.”
The defense secretary’s role at ABB during the late 1990s has become a bone of contention in Washington.
The ABB contract was a consequence of a 1994 deal between the US and Pyongyang to allow construction of two reactors in exchange for a freeze on the North’s nuclear weapons program.
North Korea revealed last year that it had secretly continued its nuclear weapons program., despite its obligations under the deal with Washington.
The Bush government has repeatedly used the agreement to criticize the former Clinton administration for being too soft on North Korea. Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, has been among the most vocal critics of the 1994 weapons accord.
Weapons experts have also speculated that waste material from the two reactors could be used for so-called “dirty bombs”.
Rumsfeld’s position at ABB could prove embarrassing for the Bush administration since while he was a director he was also active on issues of weapons proliferation, chairing the 1998 congressional Ballistic Missile Threat commission.
The commission suggested the Clinton-era deal with Pyongyang gave too much away because “North Korea maintains an active weapons of mass destruction program., including a nuclear weapons program.”.
From Zurich to Pyongyang
At the same time, Rumsfeld was traveling to Zurich for ABB’s quarterly board-meetings.
Eberhardt said it was possible that the North Korea deal never crossed the ABB boardroom desk.
“At the time, we generated a lot of big orders in the power generation business [worth] around $1 billion…[so] a $200 million contract was, so to speak, a smaller one.”
When asked whether a deal with a country such as North Korea – a communist state with declared nuclear intentions – should have been brought to the ABB board’s attention, Eberhardt told swissinfo:
“Yes, maybe. But so far we haven’t any evidence for that because the protocols were never disclosed. So maybe it was a discussion point, maybe not,” says Eberhardt.
A Pentagon spokeswoman, Victoria Clark, recently told “Newsweek” magazine that “Secretary Rumsfeld does not recall it being brought before the board at any time”.
It was a long time ago
Today, ABB says it no longer has any involvement with the North Korean power plants, due to come on line in 2007 and 2008.
The company finalized the sale of its nuclear business in early 2000 to the British-based BNFL group.
© Copyright swissinfo SRI
And this one found January 23, 2009
The two faces of Rumsfeld
2000: director of a company which wins $200m contract to sell nuclear reactors to North Korea
2002: declares North Korea a terrorist state, part of the axis of evil and a target for regime change
guardian.co.uk, Friday 9 May 2003 08.48 BST
Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, sat on the board of a company which three years ago sold two light water nuclear reactors to North Korea - a country he now regards as part of the "axis of evil" and which has been targeted for regime change by Washington because of its efforts to build nuclear weapons.
Mr Rumsfeld was a non-executive director of ABB, a European engineering giant based in Zurich, when it won a $200m (£125m) contract to provide the design and key components for the reactors. The current defence secretary sat on the board from 1990 to 2001, earning $190,000 a year. He left to join the Bush administration.
The reactor deal was part of President Bill Clinton's policy of persuading the North Korean regime to positively engage with the west.
The sale of the nuclear technology was a high-profile contract. ABB's then chief executive, Goran Lindahl, visited North Korea in November 1999 to announce ABB's "wide-ranging, long-term cooperation agreement" with the communist government.
The company also opened an office in the country's capital, Pyongyang, and the deal was signed a year later in 2000. Despite this, Mr Rumsfeld's office said that the de fence secretary did not "recall it being brought before the board at any time".
In a statement to the American magazine Newsweek, his spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said that there "was no vote on this". A spokesman for ABB told the Guardian yesterday that "board members were informed about the project which would deliver systems and equipment for light water reactors".
Just months after Mr Rumsfeld took office, President George Bush ended the policy of engagement and negotiation pursued by Mr Clinton, saying he did not trust North Korea, and pulled the plug on diplomacy. Pyongyang warned that it would respond by building nuclear missiles. A review of American policy was announced and the bilateral confidence building steps, key to Mr Clinton's policy of detente, halted.
By January 2002, the Bush administration had placed North Korea in the "axis of evil" alongside Iraq and Iran. If there was any doubt about how the White House felt about North Korea this was dispelled by Mr Bush, who told the Washington Post last year: "I loathe [North Korea's leader] Kim Jong-il."
The success of campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq have enhanced the status of Mr Rumsfeld in Washington. Two years after leaving ABB, Mr Rumsfeld now considers North Korea a "terrorist regime _ teetering on the verge of collapse" and which is on the verge of becoming a proliferator of nuclear weapons. During a bout of diplomatic activity over Christmas he warned that the US could fight two wars at once - a reference to the forthcoming conflict with Iraq. After Baghdad fell, Mr Rumsfeld said Pyongyang should draw the "appropriate lesson".
Critics of the administration's bellicose language on North Korea say that the problem was not that Mr Rumsfeld supported the Clinton-inspired diplomacy and the ABB deal but that he did not "speak up against it". "One could draw the conclusion that economic and personal interests took precedent over non-proliferation," said Steve LaMontagne, an analyst with the Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington.
Many members of the Bush administration are on record as opposing Mr Clinton's plans, saying that weapons-grade nuclear material could be extracted from the type of light water reactors that ABB sold. Mr Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, and the state department's number two diplomat, Richard Armitage, both opposed the deal as did the Republican presidential candidate, Bob Dole, whose campaign Mr Rumsfeld ran and where he also acted as defence adviser.
One unnamed ABB board director told Fortune magazine that Mr Rumsfeld was involved in lobbying his hawkish friends on behalf of ABB.
The Clinton package sought to defuse tensions on the Ko rean peninsula by offering supplies of oil and new light water nuclear reactors in return for access by inspectors to Pyongyang's atomic facilities and a dismantling of its heavy water reactors which produce weapons grade plutonium. Light water reactors are known as "proliferation-resistant" but, in the words of one expert, they are not "proliferation-proof".
The type of reactors involved in the ABB deal produce plutonium which needs refining before it can be weaponised. One US congressman and critic of the North Korean regime described the reactors as "nuclear bomb factories".
North Korea expelled the inspectors last year and withdrew from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in January at about the same time that the Bush administration authorised $3.5m to keep ABB's reactor project going.
North Korea is thought to have offered to scrap its nuclear facilities and missile pro gramme and to allow international nuclear inspectors into the country. But Pyongyang demanded that security guarantees and aid from the US must come first.
Mr Bush now insists that he will only negotiate a new deal with Pyongyang after the nuclear programme is scrapped. Washington believes that offering inducements would reward Pyongyang's "blackmail" and encourage other "rogue" states to develop weapons of mass destruction.
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