Jeffrey LewisA Conversation with Mark Hibbs

I’ve kept up an e-mail conversation with Mark Hibbs on-and-off for that past couple of years. So, I was really psyched to meet him in person at this year’s Carnegie Conference. Apparently, I am not the only one. With a huge amount of notoriety from Bill Langewiesche’s Atomic Bazaar, Hibbs finds himself on the dais right now with Joe Cirincione and Matt Bunn.

One of the main themes is how Hibbs managed to get right stories that the rest of the media got wrong.

One of the best of the examples is the 2002 claim by the CIA that the DPRK was constructing a centrifuge facility. Not playing with centrifuges, but building “a plant that could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for two or more nuclear weapons per year when fully operational—which could be as soon as mid-decade.”

[Readers of this blog and Arms Control Today know Paul was also an early skeptic of this claim (more).]

Mark called “bullshit” right away, writing in an October 2002 story:

Intelligence data suggest the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) may not have made needed technical breakthroughs in its secret uranium enrichment effort, and may even have reached a critical impasse leading Pyongyang to effectively terminate the program by disclosing its existence to U.S. officials two weeks ago, Western government officials told Nucleonics Week.

Joe read that paragaph to Mark and asked a simple question: How did you know that?

“I was asking technical questions about what did we know about what the North Koreans were obtaining,” Mark said simply, explaining that North Korea’s purchases simply did not support the conclusion that the program was very far advanced.

Exactly why Mark is the best.


  1. Michael Roston (History)

    Not only such an amazing reporter, but also such a nice guy.

  2. Andreas Persbo

    Agree totally. Mark is a star, one of the very brightest.