Reacting to North Korea’s latest threat to retaliate over condemnation of its failed rocket launch, John Bolton urged the Obama administration Wednesday to press China on the reunification of the Korean peninsula.
In an interview with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, the former United Nations ambassador said China’s direct intervention with Pyongyang is the only way to resolve the long-standing tensions between North and South Korea, and the international community.
“The fact is we have had 20 years of pursuing the same policy, which is trying to negotiate North Korea out of their nuclear-weapons program,” Bolton said. “It’s not going to work. We need to do something different. I think what we should do different is talk to China about the reunification of the peninsula.”
“The Chinese can turn this around almost instantly,” Bolton continued, noting that Beijing controls “90 percent” of North Korea’s energy supply, as well as “huge amounts of food and humanitarian assistance.”
All, he suggested, could be used to pressure Pyongyang into talks with Seoul about reuniting the divided peninsula.
Bolton’s comments followed a new threat Wednesday from North Korea to retaliate against the United States over condemnation of its failed launch of a satellite rocket last Friday.
The United States said the launch was really a long-range missile test and broke off a deal to provide the North with much needed food aid.
North Korea labeled the withdrawal of aid a “hostile act” and threatened to move ahead with what would be a third nuclear test.
Bolton said it was “a mistake” to begin with for the United States to tie food aid to negotiations with North Korea and suggested it could make things worse.
“So we’re now in a bad position because those people are starving,” he said. “South Korea’s worried about refugees, China’s worried about refugees. This is a problem.”
Asked what he thinks will happen next, Bolton replied: “I am afraid that the State Department is going to say: ‘We need to go back and negotiate some more.’ That would play right into the North Koreans’ hands.”
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