Tags: North Korea | Trump Administration | bill richardson | kim jong un | korean peninsula | nuclear weapons

Bill Richardson: Kim Jong Un Unpredictable, Not Suicidal

Image: Bill Richardson: Kim Jong Un Unpredictable, Not Suicidal
Former U.S. ambassador Bill Richardson (AP)

By    |   Monday, 04 September 2017 01:46 PM

North Korea's claims to have tested a hydrogen bomb over the weekend show they are actively defying both the United States and China, and they are not backing down from their efforts to upgrade their nuclear capabilities, but leader Kim Jong Un is not suicidal, former ambassador Bill Richardson said Monday.

"It's provocative and very serious," Richardson, also a former governor of New Mexico, told MSNBC. "I think Secretary [James] Mattis was right in his very strong response. We can't tolerate this."

Richardson said Mattis "offered a little bit of an olive branch" with his comments, in particular the United States is "'not looking to the total annihilation of a country — namely, North Korea.'" Further, the former ambassador said he is impressed in how the Trump administration's national security team is being strong, but showing restraint.

He also commended the team for sending openings to Kim that leave room for him to return to the negotiating table.

"I don't think that Kim Jong Un is suicidal," Richardson said. "He may be unpredictable. I don't even think he's irrational. I think there's an end game, and we need to find out what his endgame is."

Meanwhile, he criticized President Donald Trump for his weekend tweet admonishing South Korea for its "talk of appeasement" with North Korea.

"We've got to be careful," Richardson said. "We can't be poking South Korea. They're our main ally in threatening the end of the free-trade agreement. I think we need to be united."

China, however, has leverage in the matter, said the former ambassador, "as 83 percent of all North Korean trade comes through China."

"They did support a sanction on coal, on seafood, a serious sanction at the UN," Richardson said. "But, clearly, North Korea is not listening to China. You can't just totally blame China, even though China is not trying as hard as it should."

The former ambassador earlier Monday told CNN's "New Day" program that a diplomatic dialogue is necessary, and he does not belief that it would be rewarding North Korea's "bad behavior" to talk to them.

Story continues below this video.

"It doesn't mean you're going to do what they want us to do by having a dialogue," Richardson said. "I just don't see an end game in the administration's strategy which involves diplomacy.

"But I do think that the national security team — I like that [Chief of Staff] Gen. John Kelly has brought order in the White House — Gen. Mattis, think they're putting out the diplomatic potential breakthrough by saying, 'look, you know, we're not going to take it if you continue this escalation. But there is a diplomatic option, and you have to come forth.'"

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North Korea's claims to have tested a hydrogen bomb over the weekend show they are actively defying both the United States and China, but leader Kim Jong Un is not suicidal, former ambassador Bill Richardson said Monday.
bill richardson, kim jong un, korean peninsula, nuclear weapons
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2017-46-04
Monday, 04 September 2017 01:46 PM
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