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John Bolton Blasts N Korean Nuclear Deal

From CNN’s program, The Situation Room:

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei (C) joins hands with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill (R) and North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan before the closing ceremony of the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, in Beijing February 13, 2007.

Is North Korea Giving Up Nuclear Weapons?

Interview With John Bolton

Aired February 12, 2007 – 19:00 ET

BLITZER: Joining us now from Washington, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton. He’s now senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

Ambassador, thanks very much for coming in.

As you know, there are now reports — we just heard from our John Vause in Beijing — of a tentative deal involving the U.S. and other countries and North Korea in which North Korea supposedly would give up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for a lot energy assistance and other assistance. Is this a good deal?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: This is a very bad deal. And I’m hoping that the president has not been fully briefed on it and he still has time to reject it.

It’s bad for two reasons. First, it contradicts fundamental premises of the president’s policy he’s been following for the past six years. And second, it makes the administration look very weak at a time in Iraq and dealing with Iran it needs to look strong. So I hope with few hours yet to go the president might yet reject it.

BLITZER: But why do you say it contradicts his policy? He’s been insisting he wanted to negotiate some sort of deal with North Korea through the so-called Six-Party Talks. Why does this contradict that approach?

BOLTON: This is in many respects simply a repetition of the agreed framework of 1994. You know, Secretary Powell in 2001 started off the administration by saying he was prepared to pick up where the Clinton administration left off. President Bush changed course and followed a different approach. This is the same thing that the State Department was prepared to do six years ago. If we going to cut this deal now, it’s amazing we didn’t cut it back then. So I’m hoping that this is not really what’s going to happen.

BLITZER: Well, when you say that, do you suspect that the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may have a different stance on this issue than, shall we say, the president?

BOLTON: I’m just going say I hope the president is not yet fully briefed. He has a few hours to consider this. It really — it sends exactly the wrong signal to would-be proliferators around the world, if you hold out long enough and wear down the State Department negotiators, eventually you get rewarded, in this case with massive shipments of heavy fuel oil for doing only partially what needs to be done to complete dismantling of their nuclear program.

BLITZER: It sounds very similar to that deal that the Clinton administration made in the early ’90s, ’93, ’94 with North Korea, a deal that the North Koreans eventually betrayed.

BOLTON: Well, exactly. And this deal says almost nothing about the North Korean program to achieve nuclear weapons through highly enriched uranium. So it’s the same fallacy as the Clinton administration focusing — looking through a soda straw at the Yongbyon nuclear facility and looking at the broader North Korean nuclear effort. I am very disturbed by this deal.

BLITZER: Well, why do you think it sends a bad message to Iraqis and to the Iranians’ President Ahmadinejad in Iran? For example, the U.S. and its allies in Europe, Russia, China, they’re trying to work out a deal that would stop the Iranians from going forward with a nuclear weapons program?

BOLTON: Well, in both cases the Security Council has imposed sanctions on Iran and on North Korea. I think this deal with North Korea undercuts the sanctions resolution with respect to them. And I think the Iranians have only to follow the same example. The Russians wore the Europeans down. Of course, that’s not hard on the initial sanctions resolution. And then they wore us down. If the would-be proliferators can simply through persistence get the United States to compromise on its basic principles, they’re going to succeed in proliferation. That’s why this deal is such a bad precedent.

BLITZER: All right. Let’s talk a little bit about Iraq because I’ve read some of your recent comments, which seem to differ from the Bush administration’s stance. For example, the president said back in November 28th, "I’d like to see stability and a unified Iraq. A young democracy will provide the stability we look for."

In a recent interview with "Le Monde" you said the United States has no strategic interest in the fact that there’s one Iraq or three Iraqs. You don’t think necessarily it would be bad if Iraq was partitioned into three separate states?

BOLTON: I think the United States has to focus on what its interests are. And our principle strategic interest in Iraq is that it not become a base for terrorist activity. Whether that can best be achieved through one Iraq in different kinds of arrangements or three Iraqs is really not that much of a matter of interest to us. It is a matter of interest to the Iraqis. But we have to look out for the United States and have to frame our policies based and our best understanding of how that strategic objective we need can be obtained.

BLITZER: You also told "Le Monde" — you said, "This is the last effort. If the Iraqis cannot straighten the situation, that’s their fault."

Are you confident that this Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki has what it takes to get the job done?

BOLTON: Certainly not. I think it’s clear that the United States has met the obligation that it incurred when it overthrew Saddam Hussein. And that’s to try and provide some conditions of security for the Iraqis to determine what kind of country or what kind of society they want in the future. We have met that obligation. That obligation does not need to be extended. And this is really the last chance for them. After that, we need to pursue very narrowly what our strategic interest is. And that’s making sure that terrorism doesn’t find root in that country.

BLITZER: He’s always been blunt. And you’ve just seen him be blunt here in the SITUATION ROOM.

Ambassador, thanks very much for coming in.

BOLTON: Glad to be here.

Apparently this is exactly the same deal the US could have made with North Korea six years ago.

So why did we wait until they tested a nuclear bomb and several delivery systems?

If it was a bad deal then, it is an even worse deal now.

It’s not like we haven’t been down this road before.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Tuesday, February 13th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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