Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton talked about North Korea’s Fourth of July missile test launch on Thursday’s edition of Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Alex Marlow.
Bolton said intercontinental ballistic missiles are a goal North Korea has been working towards since the early 1990s, as part of the outlaw regime’s quest for “deliverable nuclear weapons,” but it was still surprising to many observers that a missile with true intercontinental capability was successfully launched this week.
“It’s capable of hitting Alaska. It can’t hit the Lower 48 yet, but that’s only a matter of time,” he said. “The only other thing we need to find out, and I don’t want to be on the receiving end of it, is whether North Korea has miniaturized its nuclear devices – of which it’s already detonated five – to the point they can put it under an ICBM nose cone.”
“I’ve been talking about this for 20 years, and so have many other people. And yet, for the last three U.S. administrations – eight years of Clinton, eight years of Bush, eight years of Obama – people have tried to negotiate with North Korea to talk them out of their nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. It’s failed consistently for 25 years,” he said.
“That’s why Trump has inherited this mess. The issue is whether he can find a way out of it, or whether he succumbs to what I know the State Department, and much of the Defense Department, and much of the intelligence community are telling him: just keep doing what we’ve been doing before. Because that will result in a nuclear North Korea,” Bolton warned.
“And by the way, you can already see the mainstream media and academia preparing us to live in a world where North Korea has nuclear weapons,” he added, citing a New York Times op-ed to that effect from Wednesday.
Bolton judged that Japan would continue to be a reliable ally against North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, since the Japanese are well aware their cities lie within range of North Korea’s missiles. On the other hand, he said “all of the evidence points to China and Russia as, at best, turning a blind eye to what the North has been up to, and more likely facilitating the North’s nuclear and missile programs.”
He said his support from China and Russia was kept low-profile to avoid sanctions, but there was no way to conceal that China supplies North Korea with much of its oil and food, giving Beijing more than enough leverage to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear missile program if it truly wanted to.
“China is playing a double game. They say they don’t want the North Koreans to have nuclear weapons but they haven’t shut it down,” Bolton charged. “It’s a very dangerous situation. Nobody should underestimate it.”
“One other point I would make: Every time you hear the words ‘North Korea,’ think of the word ‘Iran,’” he added. “Because whatever North Korea can do, Iran can do the next day by sending them a check in the appropriate amount. We have stovepiped these two nuclear proliferation threats for a very long time. We need to stop doing that because every day that goes by brings us closer to the day when one or both of them can hit the United States.”
Bolton cited North Korea’s five known nuclear test detonations, and its successful test of ballistic missile technology, to say it is a “more imminent threat” than Iran, but stressed that North Korea and Iran have been working “extremely closely on ballistic missiles” since the Nineties, “and there’s every reason to think they have worked extremely closely on the nuclear program as well.”
“It wouldn’t surprise me if a big chunk of Iran’s uranium enrichment program is not in Iran, where we know where it is, but under a mountain in North Korea,” he said. “We have very poor intelligence on North Korea, so it’s a big advantage for Iran to work with them.”
“When the Israelis destroyed that reactor in Syria in September 2007, it was being built by North Koreans,” he recalled. “Well, who paid for that? North Korea doesn’t do anything for free. I doubt that Syria had the resources to do it. Quite likely it was Iran. When that reactor was found by the Israelis and destroyed, the lesson I think to Iran was, ‘Build it someplace where the Israelis can’t find it.’ That’s why they may well have turned to North Korea.”
Bolton noted that U.S. and South Korean military officials have been warning for the past year that North Korea was on the verge of developing missiles that could hit the West Coast of the United States, perhaps as early as 2018.
“In public testimony three or four months ago now, the head of the U.S. Strategic Command told Congress that the only thing he had any doubt about was whether North Korea had fully conquered the miniaturization tasks to take a nuclear device and make it small enough to put under an ICBM nose cone. So even just three or four months ago, he didn’t have any doubt about the range,” he noted.
“There are a lot of other technical steps to overcome here. You can put the nose cone and the warhead up, you can bring it back down, but it’s a pretty rocky ride. You have to make sure that the warhead will detonate at the appropriate time,” he explained.
“We don’t know whether the North has mastered that technology, but I would be very cautious about intelligence that says they can’t do this, and they can’t do that, and they can’t do the other thing, because the first American reaction to this launch was ‘it was an intermediate range ballistic missile, not an ICBM,” and we were wrong. And we didn’t detect this one before the launch. I think we’ve had enough lessons in intelligence being imperfect,” he said.
“Don’t count on our lack of knowledge meaning that the North doesn’t have the capability,” he advised. “They may well have the capability. We may simply not have detected it.”
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