Bolton says North Korea still seeks nuclear weapons
WASHINGTON (AFP) — John Bolton warned Monday that North Korea had not truly chosen to give up nuclear weapons in the hawk’s first public appearance since he left as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser.
At a think-tank conference on North Korea, Bolton said he could now “speak in unvarnished terms” about the “grave threat” posed by the regime of Kim Jong-un, who has courted Trump.
“It seems to be clear that the DPRK has not made a strategic decision to give up its nuclear weapons,” Bolton said, referencing the North’s official name.
“In fact, I think the contrary is true. I think the strategic decision that Kim Jong-un is operating through is that he will do whatever he can to keep a deliverable nuclear weapons capability and to develop and enhance it further,” Bolton said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“These are the questions that need to focus our attention — not can we get another summit with Kim Jong-un.”
His comments are at odds with Trump’s rosy depictions of Kim after three meetings, with the U.S. leader hailing the young strongman’s “beautiful letters” and insisting that Kim would stay true to his word.
Bolton has long been known for his strong opposition to North Korea, which once, before he served with Trump, denounced him as “human scum.”
When they parted ways, Trump pointed to a comment by Bolton — how he favored a “Libyan model” for North Korea — as an example of his top aide “being not smart.”
In 2003 as the United States was invading Iraq, Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi negotiated an end to its nuclear program in return for reconciliation with the West.
But Western powers in 2011 backed an uprising against Qaddafi, who was later found in a drainage pipe, tortured and lynched.
Bolton on Monday stood by his remarks, saying the “Libyan model” referred to a strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons.
“We saw Muammar Qaddafi make an unambiguous decision that he and Libya would be better off without developing nuclear weapons,” said Bolton, an architect of the Iraq war.