Bolton continues pressure campaign against North Korea

Posted on : 2019-03-12 17:19 KST Modified on : 2019-03-12 17:19 KST
Hardliner stresses Washington’s plan to pursue “big deal” demand for Pyongyang’s full-scale disarmament  
White House National Security Advisor John Bolton (far left) during the Hanoi summit on Feb. 28
White House National Security Advisor John Bolton (far left) during the Hanoi summit on Feb. 28

White House National Security Advisor John Bolton continued sending a message of pressure against Pyongyang on Mar. 10, insisting that “the leverage is on [the US’] side right now, not on North Korea’s.”

Viewed as an ultra-hawk on North Korea, Bolton had seemed to take a step back through the second North Korea-US summit in Hanoi on Feb. 27–28, but has been front and center in a pressure campaign against the North for days on end since plans for a joint declaration in Hanoi fell through.

Appearing in interviews on ABC and Fox News on Mar. 10, Bolton sounded a warning in connection with North Korea’s efforts to restore its missile launch site at Tongchang Village. When asked on ABC News if he thought North Korea planned to launch a missile or satellite, Bolton said, “I’m not going to speculate on what that particular commercial satellite picture shows.”

“We see exactly what they’re doing now. We see it unblinkingly, and we don't have any illusions about what their capabilities are,” he stressed.

Commenting on the possibility of North Korea launching a satellite or missile, Bolton said, “As the president [Donald Trump] said, he’d be pretty disappointed.” Bolton also recalled that Trump had repeatedly said he viewed the suspension of nuclear and missile testing as a positive sign. But when asked whether negotiations would fall apart if North Korea launched a satellite or missile, Bolton replied that he would not speculate on that either, adding that Trump was “confident in his relations” with Kim. The message read as an indirect warning against North Korea engaging in any activity that might make the situation worse.

Bolton also continued that day stressing Washington’s plans to pursue a “big deal” exchanging sanctions relief for North Korea’s full-scale abandonment of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

“From the beginning we’ve also included chemical and biological weapons in the elimination of their weapons of mass destruction,” he said.

“It’s important to South Korea and Japan [where US forces are deployed],” he explained.

Regarding a step-by-step approach to North Korea’s denuclearization, he stressed that Trump is “determined to avoid the mistakes prior presidents have made, and one of those mistakes is falling for the North Korean action for action ploy.”

Stresses US’ “economic leverage” because of sanctions

Bolton further reaffirmed that the US intends to keep sanctions in place against North Korea, noting that Kim “wants the economic sanctions released” and stressing that “the economic leverage that we have because of the sanctions puts the pressure on North Korea.”

“[T]he leverage is on our side right now, not on North Korea's,” he said, explaining that this was “one reason why all of the pundits and all of the experts predicting a deal in Hanoi were wrong.”

Since the second North Korea-US summit, Bolton has called for a “big deal” and pressured North Korea in six to seven different press interviews. His appearances are seen as reflecting the current mood of Trump and his administration.

“The president, despite what a lot of the experts and pundits say, is not under pressure to make any deal,” he said in his interview with ABC News.

“He wants to make the right deal, and he described it to Kim Jong-un at the Hanoi meeting,” he added.

Describing Trump as “open to” holding a third summit, Bolton said, “Nothing has been scheduled, and some time will have to go by.”

By Hwang Joon-bum, Washington correspondent

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