The Wash Post offers its latest, impressive assessment, this one President Bush's record on counter-profileration. It's opportunity costs defined:
As London and Washington tried to keep watch in 2001 and 2002, important parts of the black-market network escaped their view. During that period, authoritative sources in both capitals said, [nukes blackmarketer A.Q.] Khan's operation delivered tens of thousands of gas centrifuge parts that brought North Korea to the threshold of unlimited bomb production.
It was that unhappy discovery, made in two stages in July and September 2002, that forced North Korea back onto Bush's agenda when he was trying to keep the world's focus on Iraq.
U.S. intelligence agencies knew North Korea was working to circumvent that agreement by acquiring technology to enrich uranium, the alternative ingredient for a bomb. But as recently as June 2002, a National Intelligence Estimate judged it would be three years or more before the Pyongyang government could assemble gas centrifuges in a small test cascade.
By September, U.S. officials said, the CIA reached the stunning conclusion that a "production-scale" centrifuge facility was nearly complete. "It was much more advanced then anyone expected," said a White House official who followed the subject closely.
With a supply of enriched uranium, Pyongyang would not need plutonium to build bombs. The CIA's best estimate, Bush administration officials said, was that North Korea could add two weapons to its arsenal each year.
On Oct. 5, 2002, Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly returned from a hastily arranged trip to Pyongyang with stunning news. When he confronted the North Koreans about U.S. suspicions, they responded by belligerently acknowledging his claims.
The Bush administration dispatched Kelly to brief allied ambassadors. One of them asked whether Bush would seek U.N. Security Council attention for Pyongyang. Kelly replied, according to a diplomat who was present, "The Security Council is for Iraq." Kelly said through a spokesman he does not remember the remark.