Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton joined SiriusXM host Alex Marlow on Friday’s Breitbart News Daily to expand on his provocative Wall Street Journal essay from earlier this week, “The Legal Case for Striking North Korea First.”
“I think it’s important for people to understand that the United States has a legitimate right of self-defense when we are threatened by regimes like North Korea that are close to possessing the world’s most destructive weapons,” said Bolton.
“We don’t have to wait for them to drop a nuclear weapon on an American city, or Tokyo, or Seoul, or a city in an allied country,” he said.
“I think this is important to understand because normally you don’t want to be the one who initiates the use of force, but given the consequences of a nuclear detonation in the United States, given the speed at which a ballistic missile can approach the United States and we do not have adequate missile defenses, given that there are a lot of other ways North Korea can get a nuclear weapon to the United States, we have to ask ourselves whether we’re prepared to take preemptive action, or live in a world where North Korea – and a lot of other people – have nuclear weapons,” he warned.
Bolton cited the new United Nations report accusing North Korea of selling chemical weapons equipment to Syria for over a decade as evidence of how dangerous the regime in Pyongyang is.
“That’s what North Korea does. It sells anything to anybody for hard currency,” he said. “Just as it sells chemical weapons, just as it was financed – probably by Iran – to build a nuclear reactor in Syria destroyed by Israel in 2007, the day it gets deliverable nuclear weapons the bazaar will be open, and the highest bidders will be welcome.”
“It’s a very important decision. It’s not a pleasant decision. Nobody wants to be where we are today. But because of the failure of the past three administrations over 25 years, that’s where we are,” he said.
Bolton said the only remaining diplomatic option is for China to “do something dramatic to help us overthrow the regime in North Korea, or to agree to the reunification of the Korean peninsula.”
“I don’t see signs the Chinese are prepared to do this,” he judged. “I don’t think they take this threat as seriously as we do. There may be things going on behind the scenes, obviously, we don’t know about, but I don’t’ see it.”
“We’ve been talking to North Korea, directly and indirectly, for 25 years,” he stressed. “We have sanctioned them. We’ve given them economic benefits. We’ve tried carrots and sticks to get them to give up their nuclear weapons program. In fact, during that 25 years, on four separate occasions they have signed international agreements to give up their nuclear weapons program, and they’ve lied every time.”
Bolton warned that while North Korea’s response to diplomacy has not changed much over the past three decades, their technological sophistication has improved at a dangerous pace, culminating in what analysts believe was the test detonation of their first true thermonuclear weapon in 2017 along with the development of long-range missile technology.
“That means that when you hear CIA director Mike Pompeo say that we are a ‘handful of months’ – his phrase – a handful of months away from North Korea being able to hit targets in the United States, that shows there just aren’t a lot of options, because there’s just not enough time,” he cautioned.
Bolton maintained that keeping a U.S. first strike on the table as a policy option increases the chance that other means will prevail and military action will prove unnecessary.
“As long as Barack Obama, for example, would just sort of automatically say ‘all options are on the table’ – nobody believed him. Nobody believed there was a penalty. I think Trump has overcome that. The rest of the world understands that he’s not Barack Obama,” he said.
However, Bolton added that the North Korean threat still is not being taken seriously enough.
“The calculus that we have to make is not a choice between the world as it is today, compared to the world as it would be after an American strike on North Korea’s nuclear program,” he argued. “Today’s world is disappearing. It’s only a matter of time before North Korea has deliverable nuclear weapons. You have to look at what the world would be where North Korea can threaten and blackmail the United States and its allies, where it can sell nuclear technology to Iran, to ISIS or al-Qaeda if they’ve got the hard currency, to any wannabe nuclear power around the world.”
“People understandably shy away from the use of military force. They worry about the consequences. I think we have to start worrying about the consequences of America being blackmailed by this bizarre regime in North Korea, or being blackmailed by the religious fanatics in Iran, or by a bunch of terrorists who are able to get one or two nuclear devices – basically no ballistic missiles for them, but they could smuggle them across the Mexican border, they could put them in a tramp steamer and sail a device into any harbor in America, or really anywhere around the world. This is very serious stuff,” he said.
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