John Bolton: Trying to Get China to Help with North Korea Has Failed for 25 Years

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AP/Wong Maye-E, File

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton told Breitbart News Daily on Thursday that President Trump was right to call out China for its lackluster performance in the North Korean crisis.

“What the Chinese did here was consistent with the way they behaved for twenty-five years,” Bolton told SiriusXM host Raheem Kassam. “He was looking for a dramatic early indication of change, and they haven’t provided it.”

“That’s because while they’ve said for twenty-five years they don’t want North Korea to have nuclear weapons because it’s destabilizing in Northeast Asia – which is a code phrase meaning they’re worried Japan will get nuclear weapons, and if that happens Chinese economic development will be impaired,” he explained.

“Actually, the Chinese logic is right. That would be a sensible statement of their position. But they have never acted on the obvious conclusion that you need to stop North Korea from getting nuclear weapons. They talk about it. They hold meetings. They host meetings. They do all kinds of things, but they never actually do anything to stop North Korea from continuing to make progress,” he said.

Bolton said time was running short for a nuanced solution to the North Korean situation.

“Let me come back to this twenty-five year history: three American administrations, they obviously had their differences, but they followed in broad analytical terms the same kind of policy vis-a-vis North Korea – a combination of diplomacy and economic pressure, negotiations and sanctions, to try and change North Korean behavior,” he recalled.

“They tried to get China to help us change North Korea, and it failed for twenty-five years,” he continued. “That’s why, after years of progress on ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, we’re down to a very few options. The North Koreans and the Chinese both knew this.”

“Negotiation is not a cost-free exercise,” Bolton mused. “Its advocates act as though ‘what can be hurt by having negotiations?’ The answer is, you’re losing time, and for proliferators, time is a critical asset because it allows them to overcome all the scientific and technological complexities of getting deliverable nuclear weapons.”

“Today, when we hear people say North Korea will be able to hit targets in the United States with nuclear warheads in 2018, that should be focusing people’s attention because that is very serious. How much room for play and diplomacy is there? Very little at this point,” he warned.

“My view is we should try and convince China it’s in their interest to accept the reunification of the peninsula, essentially under South Korean control,” he advised. “I think that’s a doable argument. I wish we’d started it with the Chinese fifteen years ago. But absent any diplomatic play – I say this today in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal – there’s no doubt you have to look at the military option. Otherwise, you’re giving North Korea the capacity to intimidate and blackmail the United States by threatening our innocent civilian population.”

Kassam said that it is embarrassing for the Western world when a Lilliputian regime like North Korea (as White House adviser Dr. Sebastian Gorka put it Wednesday in a Breitbart News Daily appearance) could cause so much trouble.

“It shows the would-be nuclear proliferators like Iran that if you have enough patience, you, too, can be a nuclear weapons state,” Bolton responded. “That’s why the lesson of this twenty-five years of bipartisan failure is so important – because we’re seeing the same thing play out in Iran today, looking at the nuclear agreement where people are scared to death of leaving it because they think it’s a way to make progress with Iran. It’s not making progress with Iran. It’s not inhibiting Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile efforts. If anything, it’s facilitating them.”

“The argument that we should simply continue doing what we’ve done for these past twenty-five years in both countries, I think, is a fool’s errand. We have failed. Our objective has been to prevent more countries from getting nuclear weapons. North Korea has already detonated five nuclear devices. As I say, their ballistic missile progress is evident,” he said.

“And everything that North Korea has, Iran can have tomorrow via a wire transfer. And you know, the Iranians on their own are making progress,” Bolton added.

“The rest of the world can see this. I think there’s already an incipient nuclear arms race in the Middle East, as the Saudis, the Egyptians, the Turks and others look at Iran and say, ‘We’re not going to sit here and let them get nuclear weapons.’ To them, Iran is actually more threatening than the Israeli nuclear program,” he noted.

John Bolton is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and head of his own political action committee, BoltonPAC.

Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Eastern.

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