Following Friday’s failed missile launch by North Korea, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton charged in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV that the United States has to have a better plan than counting on the other side’s missiles “blowing up in flight.”
The isolated north, using a long-range rocket launch to celebrate the 100th birthday of dead founding president, Kim Il-sung, and to mark the rise to power of his grandson, Kim Jong Un, is now widely expected to press ahead with a third nuclear test to show its military might. The North Korean rocket crashed into the sea after traveling a much shorter distance than a previous launch.
Attending the National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis on Friday, Bolton insisted that North Korea’s action demonstrates it believes it can continue to make progress toward a “deliverable” nuclear weapon.
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“Although the missile failed close to launch, you know our defense of our civilian population can’t rest on the other side’s missiles blowing up in flight,” declared Bolton, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for 16 months under former President George W. Bush.
Bolton — the son of a Baltimore firefighter, who graduated from Yale and went on to Yale Law School, where he studied under Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork — believes that the North Korean situation is further evidence that the United States needs to take a tough stance against rogue nations.
“It’s a clear demonstration why we need missile defense for the United States and why we need a much tougher policy against rogue states like North Korea and Iran that are seeking to acquire nuclear weapons,” said Bolton, author of “How Barack Obama is Endangering our National Sovereignty,” and "Surrender Is Not An Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad."
Bolton also said that the Obama administration should not provide any humanitarian assistance to North Korea unless there is some way of assuring such assistance finds its way to the North Korean people.
“I think we ought to insist that there be monitoring and verification so that food aid or medicine will go to the people who need it,” he said. “That has never been the case in North Korea. We have never been able to verify effectively that it doesn’t go to the military, so I wouldn’t have put it out there.”
He said that it would be pointless to negotiate with the North Koreans over their nuclear program. “I think they have no intention of giving it up and there’s no price we ought to be willing to pay for it,” Bolton explained. “We have to look to a much more long-term solution and that’s the reunification of the Korean peninsula.”
North Korea appears to have weathered the transfer of power to Kim Jong Un, who stepped up to the top leadership post following the December 2011 death of his father, longtime leader Kim Jong Il.
Kim Jong Un was expected to assume more top posts during high-profile political and parliamentary meetings this week, which analysts said would formally complete the country's second hereditary power transfer.
“They have scripted a pretty seamless transition but under the surface I think it’s much more in contention, and I think this missile failure will open up some debate inside the regime,” predicted Bolton. “I think that long term the regime cares only about its own survival. They don’t care about the Korean peninsula and I don’t see any prospect for any change in their behavior.”
Bolton believes that North Korea will not suffer any reprisals from the West for its attempted launch.
“I think there will be a typical diplomatic reaction — strong statements that nobody pays any attention to, and I think the North Koreans knew this,” Bolton explained. “I think they understood that they could do this essentially with impunity and I think they believe —unfortunately, correctly — that in a few months the Obama administration will be back at the table, trying to negotiate with them again.”
The North Korean situation also sends a message to Iran.
“If there’s no penalty for this kind of behavior, it’s no wonder that countries like North Korea engage in it repeatedly, and I think that the rulers in Iran watch this and draw the appropriate conclusions unfortunately,” he added.
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