Did 'Crooked Hillary' Clinton Allow North Korea's Nuclear Weapons? Donald Trump's Twitter Claim, Fact-Checked

President Donald Trump is blaming former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for North Korea's rapid development of nuclear weapons. 

"After allowing North Korea to research and build Nukes while Secretary of State (Bill C also), Crooked Hillary now criticizes," Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, reviving the moniker he often used for his opponent during the election campaign. 

Trump has ramped up his aggressive rhetoric on North Korea amid its nuclear and missile testing. He has even branded its dictatorial leader, Kim Jong Un, with an insulting nickname.

"The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea," Trump said at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. "Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime."

Under Kim, the North has expanded its nuclear program, but it's not as if Clinton simply sat idly by and allowed the hermetic nation to develop the technology, as Trump suggests. In fact, its program began accelerating in the mid-2000s, when former President George W. Bush included North Korea in his infamous "axis of evil" remark. The nation withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 2003 (and claimed it had nuclear weapons that same year), tested long-range missiles in 2006 and said it carried out its first successful nuclear test in 2006.

As Newsweek's Greg Price reported last month, when it comes to the North and its weapons, there is blame to share among the last three administrations, including that of former President Barack Obama, for whom Clinton served as secretary of state for four years. Obama adopted the so-called strategic patience stance, meaning he focused on diplomatic efforts and sanctions to slow the North's march toward becoming a nuclear power. Obama also employed cyberattacks on the regime, but none of it, obviously, was effective in stopping the regime—though there were fewer threats of nuclear annihilation then than there are now. 

Bush and President Bill Clinton both reached agreements with the North to get the nation to stop its nuclear program, but the deals ultimately failed. So there is no one person to blame—but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of blame to go around. Trump's statement has a nugget of truth—after all, both Clintons were in positions of power and could have done more to slow the North's nuclear program. But like many things with the 45th president (and, to be fair, Twitter in general), his claim is missing a healthy dollop of nuance. 

Share the Facts
Newsweek rating logo Newsweek Rating:
Mostly False
"After allowing North Korea to research and build Nukes while Secretary of State (Bill C also), Crooked Hillary now criticizes."
Wednesday, September 20, 2017