Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton says North Korea has no intention of scrapping its nuclear program, is trying to sucker the United States into relaxing sanctions, and is now just months away from being able to deploy nuclear weapons capable of reaching any point in the United States.
Earlier this week, South Korea trumpeted the news that North Korea is allegedly willing to suspend nuclear testing in exchange for direct talks with the United States and may even be open to ending its nuclear program altogether.
Bolton doesn’t believe a word of it.
“The North Koreans have been conducting an absolutely masterful propaganda campaign, beginning with their participation in the Winter Olympics,” said Bolton.
But he says the true objective is clear.
“The only thing they’re trying to do is get us to abandon the pressure that we’re putting on them and hopefully foreswear the possible use of military force, which nobody wants but nobody wants North Korea with nuclear weapons either. That’s what this is about,” said Bolton.
Bolton says the North Koreans are on the verge of posing a very real danger to every part of the United States.
“They are very close to achieving their long-sought objective of deliverable nuclear weapons. CIA Director Mike Pompeo said recently that the North was within a “handful” of months – his phrase, a handful of months – of being able to land a thermonuclear weapon on any target in the United States they want,” said Bolton.
However, Bolton says this is not merely a distraction to buy time. He believes the big stick approach from the Trump administration is working.
“I think the North, finally figuring out that Barack Obama is no longer president, is worried about what Donald Trump might do. So their response is to throw up a lot of smoke and dust in the air and hope to divert our attention, first with the Olympics and now with this supposed offer to sit down,” said Bolton.
Bolton is adamant that North Korea has zero interest in actually making nice with the U.S. or South Korea and says the proof can be seen in our recent history.
“They’ve made commitments four separate times in international agreements to give up their nuclear weapons program.
“Four times they’ve lied about it. Does history ever mean anything? If you’ve negotiated with somebody for 25 years and failed to get agreement, what possible reason is there to think they’d agree in year 26,” said Bolton.
So what will deter North Korea? Bolton says we’re facing a series of difficult options. He outright rejects former National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s recommendation for the world simply to accept North Korea as a nuclear power, but hopes the solutions can come through engagement with China.
“There’s really only one diplomatic play left here and that’s trying to convince China either to do what they uniquely have the capability of doing, overthrowing the regime in North Korea and putting in something that’s at least vaguely more reasonable, or working with us for the reunification of the Korean peninsula,” said Bolton.
And while he hopes to avoid it, Bolton says the military option must be considered.
“The other things we have to look at is the potential to use military force against the regime’s program to make sure that they don’t endanger us and our allies in South Korea and Japan. Neither of these options is very attractive, but that’s where we are after 25 years of failure,” said Bolton.
But one of those allies is also contributing to the problem. South Korean President Moon Jae-in is a strong advocate of reunification with North Korea and Bolton says Moon is actually strengthening the regime that wants to conquer him.
“There’s a compassionate, humanitarian argument here. Many South Koreans have family in the North. But the fact is the North is a 25 million-person prison camp. It’s not going to treat its people humanely. It’s going to take the subsidies and use them for its own purposes,” said Bolton.
He says South Korea’s generosity was fully exploited by North Korea at the Winter Olympics.
“South Korea actually paid for the North to participate, one more series of subsidies to keep the Kim Jong-Un regime in power, unfortunately by our allies in Seoul,” said Bolton.