Bolton says North Korea won't give up nukes in first speech since ouster

Bolton says North Korea won't give up nukes in first speech since ouster
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Former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonColin Kahl's nomination will be a disaster for Israel and the region Why is the Biden administration more interested in confrontation than cooperation? Trump offered North Korea's Kim a ride home on Air Force One: report MORE on Monday said he does not believe North Korean leader Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnNorth Korea drops out of Tokyo Olympics Biden should look to 'Ostpolitik' to negotiate with autocrats Overnight Defense: Pentagon asked for third base to house migrant children | Pompeo has regrets on North Korea MORE will give up his nuclear weapons in a deal with the United States.

North Korea “has not made a strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons,” Bolton said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in his first public remarks since leaving the Trump administration.


“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.”

Kim may make “some concessions,” Bolton added, “but under current circumstances, he will never give up the nuclear weapons voluntarily.”

Bolton, who was ousted as national security adviser last month amid policy disagreements with President TrumpDonald TrumpRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS US raises concerns about Iran's seriousness in nuclear talks MORE and personality clashes with other administration officials, did not mention Trump by name in his address Monday.

He also repeatedly declined to discuss specifics of his time in the administration, saying he has a “self-imposed” restriction on doing so, and declined to answer a question on whether “bromance” diplomacy is the best approach to North Korea.

But the arguments Bolton laid out in his speech are in contradiction to the president’s approach at brokering a nuclear deal with North Korea.

U.S.-North Korea talks have languished since Trump walked away from a summit with Kim in February without a deal amid an impasse over how much each side was willing to give.

A June meeting between Kim and Trump at the Demilitarized Zone on the Korean Peninsula ended with an agreement to resume working-level negotiations, but those talks have so far not begun.

Meanwhile, North Korea has tested more than a dozen short-range missiles since May. Trump has dismissed concerns about the tests, calling them “very standard.”

Bolton, while serving in the administration, said the tests violate United Nations Security Council resolutions. On Monday, Bolton said the United States is sending the wrong message to the international community about the missiles tests.

“When the United States, having led the fight to get those resolutions, says we really don’t care, other countries can draw the conclusion that they don’t really care about the sanctions contained in those and other resolutions,” Bolton said. “When you ask for consistent behavior from others, you have to demonstrate it yourself.”

Bolton also said the capabilities being tested in the short-range missiles, such as maneuverability, can be adapted for longer-range missiles.

Bolton further said North Korea’s moratorium on intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear tests is not a victory. Trump has often touted the moratorium as a win.

The moratorium “tells us nothing about either North Korea’s intention or its strategy,” Bolton said. “One reason, one very good, very troubling reason why there’s no more testing of nuclear weapons for the moment or of long-range missiles is that North Korea has in its judgment for well or ill finished testing and can produce nuclear warheads and long-range ballistic missiles.”

Bolton stumbled early in his tenure as a national security adviser when he suggested a “Libya model” for North Korea, nearly derailing talks as they began. The North Koreans interpreted Bolton’s suggestion as a threat as former Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi was ousted and killed years after agreeing to disarmament.

On Monday, Bolton revived talk of the “Libya model,” saying that it is “properly understood” as a leader making the strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons.

Bolton also said there are three options the United States needs to look at for North Korea: regime change, Korean unification under a democratic system or military force.

He warned of the proliferation threat North Korea poses, saying it could become the “Walmart or Amazon” of nuclear weapons.

“These are questions that need to focus our attention,” Bolton said. “Not can we get another summit with Kim Jong Un or what the state of staff-level negotiations are to achieve a commitment from North Korea it will never honor.”