President Barack Obama, who has been reaching out to anti-American regimes, faces "a moment of truth" with North Korea's nuclear test, former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton said Monday.
Bolton, who was an outspoken hardliner under George W. Bush, also warned that the claimed test is a bad omen in the Middle East "given the cooperation" between North Korea and Iran on ballistic missiles.
The North Koreans "were looking for an excuse for another test because their first test in 2006 fizzled," Bolton said on Fox News.
"The Obama administration gave them that opportunity. The special envoy, Stephen Bosworth said about two weeks ago he didn't feel any sense of crisis and hoped to get back to the six-party talks," he added.
Under a six-party deal with the United States, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia in 2007, North Korea agreed to scrap its weapons-grade nuclear programs for energy aid.
"Another official said we'd be back to the talks within nine months. I think the North Koreans read it as a signal that they could get away with it. I think we are at a moment of real testing for the Obama administration," Bolton said.
The incident is "a real moment of truth for the Obama administration," he added.
"I think, at a minimum, the US should put North Korea on the list of state sponsors of terrorism," he said.
The Bush administration drew fire from hardliners when it removed North Korea last year from the US blacklist after North Korea verbally agreed to verifying denuclearization that it never confirmed in writing.
Bolton also called for a UN Security Council resolution that "imposes sanctions on their weapons programs and complete economic sanctions like the ones we had the council impose on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1991."
He also said that, as what he calls a "persistent violator" of UN resolutions, it should be expelled under article six of the UN charter.
Bolton added that such a push within the UN would also be a "moment of truth" for China, a permanent council member which has resisted tougher action but which also says it wants to stop North Korea from acquiring atomic weapons.
Bolton also said the test has implications for the Middle East, where the United States suspects Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon with its uranium enrichment program.
"Given the cooperation between North Korea and Iran, there is reason to fear that North Korea and Iran may be sharing data on nuclear matters as they do on ballistic missiles," he said.
"This is a threat not just in northeast Asia, but potentially in the Middle East as well," he added.
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