Tags: Iran | North Korea | United Nations | War on Terrorism | John Bolton | proliferation | threat

Bolton: US 'Complacency' About N. Korea Should Be 'Shattered'

By    |   Friday, 01 May 2015 06:51 PM

Recent Chinese estimates of North Korea's nuclear-weapons capabilities "should have shattered our complacency about Pyongyang's proliferation threat," former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton writes in the New York Post.

But Beijing's judgment that North Korea already possesses 20 nuclear warheads and could reach 40 next year quickly sank from view.

Pyongyang's substantial nuclear arsenal "imperils east Asia – particularly Tokyo and Seoul – but also the United States. Its ballistic-missile program is rapidly nearing the capability of reaching our West Coast," Bolton says.

That nation's abject poverty gives it plenty of incentive to sell weapons or technology to rogue states like Iran, he says.

North Korea has been under comprehensive U.S. sanctions dating to the Korean War and under comprehensive sanctions imposed by the United Nations since it tested a nuclear device and resumed missile launches in 2006.

But none of these sanctions has prevented North Korea's nuclear arsenal from becoming as dangerous as Beijing now assesses it to be.

This reality alone "should warn us that the less-comprehensive, less well-enforced sanctions against Iran could never compel it to renounce its 30-year quest for deliverable nuclear weapons. If North Korea, perennially on the brink of starvation, can become a nuclear power, Iran can easily match its fellow rogue state," Bolton writes.

Any deal aimed at blocking Iran from moving quickly to develop nuclear weapons requires two things, he contends: first, full knowledge of the current status of Iranian nuclear and ballistic-missile programs, also known as the "baseline" assessment; and second, getting Iran to be fully open about its nuclear and missile programs.

If Tehran refuses to meet these conditions, then some combination of international inspectors or U.S. intelligence agencies must be able to provide the facts needed to detect and respond to Iranian cheating.

Neither of these conditions exists in the April 2 "framework" deal negotiated with the United States, Bolton says.

The new Chinese estimates, he writes, underscore another major deficiency in the framework deal: that it does nothing to stop Iranian collaborators outside Iran's borders.

Dealings with states like North Korea increases the difficulty of monitoring Iran and preventing it from becoming a nuclear weapons state. Recently, media reports have described Iranian and North Korean scientists visiting one another and very likely exchanging information.

What if some of the estimated 20 warheads thought to be in North Korea's possession "are actually Iran's property, having been manufactured and now stored far from Tehran to avoid detection?" asks Bolton. "No Iran deal is acceptable until the North Korean connection is fully exposed and understood."

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Recent Chinese estimates of North Korea's nuclear-weapons capabilities "should have shattered our complacency about Pyongyang's proliferation threat," former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton writes in the New York Post.
John Bolton, proliferation, threat, complacency
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2015-51-01
Friday, 01 May 2015 06:51 PM
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