Bolton: We Need to Apply More Pressure to North Korea's Regime

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 26, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: There is breaking news out of the Korean peninsula. There are reports tonight that North Korea has test fired another short range missile from an east coast launch pad.

If true, that means North Korea has launched six short range missiles in two days.

And yesterday, the rogue regime tested a nuclear device underground.

So what should the United States do? Moments ago, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton when on the "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador Bolton, nice to see you, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: Yesterday, the world was surprised by the detonation of nuclear device by the North Koreans -- today two short range missiles shot off. So now what?

BOLTON: I think it shows the North Koreans are not very impressed by statements of world leaders about their test or about the launches. I think it shows they want a deliverable nuclear weapons capability, and they're continuing to take steps to that end.

I think the response by the U.S. ought to be to get rid of the six- party talks. I think they have failed. There is no way the North Koreans are going to be talked out of their nuclear weapons.

We need to apply more pressure to this regime, and we need China to do the same.

VAN SUSTEREN: Currently there are no talks. I guess we could just officially say we are not talking either. North Korea says they're not talking, but we could say, OK, we're not either.

But France, for instance, has called for greater sanctions. What more sanctions are available out there? They have virtually nothing.

BOLTON: There are a number of things the U.S. can do. We can put them back on our list of state sponsors of terrorism, once again eliminate their access to international financial markets, both things the Bush administration did.

We could certainly do more on the proliferation security initiative, another Bush administration effort, that today South Korea announced it was joining for the first time. That is a significant step forward. But the real key here is China. China supplies 80 to 90 percent of North Korea's energy, a substantial amount of food. China could change that regime. And, in fact, if they want a more secure, peaceful northeast Asia, it is really in their interest to do that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are we a little bit closer to that being a realistic possibility, because China was dismayed, to put it gently, after the April 5th launch of the longer-range missile they were just made? And now the detonation of the nuclear device, it looks like they have really been snubbed by North Korea, and that is their biggest trading partner, North Korea is.

Is China now more vulnerable to being persuaded they need to lowering the hammer on North Korea and put some force on them?

BOLTON: I think there's a possibility. In the old days, they used to say that the North Korean and Chinese communist party's where as close as lips and teeth. I do not think that is as true anymore.

I think that China does understand that if North Korea keeps its nuclear weapons, Japan, possibly South Korea, possibly Taiwan will go nuclear too. That can't be in China's interests.

Where we disagree is that they kind of like having the Korean peninsula divided. They like having a buffer between them and the South Korean/American forces.

But the fact is North Korea is a very artificial creation. The regime is fragile. One day the Korean peninsula will reunite, and China could get on the right side of history.

This will not be easy by any stretch of imagination. But the comparison between the difficulties of eliminating the Kim Jong Il regime and that regime with nuclear weapons are night and day.

VAN SUSTEREN: When you talk about the reunification of the peninsula, when we went to North Korea last summer, they have a monument showing the reunification of Korea. But they see it as North Korea being the re- unifier and not South Korea.

Japan is deeply disturbed by the latest developments, and so is South Korea. And they have got China worried that if North Korea does come apart, then you have all these North Koreans fleeing into China.

So how does this realistically play out?

BOLTON: Again, the risk of a refugee flow is simply not anything in the same league with the risk of North Korea with nuclear weapons.

And I think if the regime collapsed, you would have the interest of both South Korea and the U.S. on one hand and China on the other to try to reestablish stability in the north, to get the refugees back into North Korea and feed them there.

So I think that we could say, in all candor, that we would be willing to work with China in a post Kim Jong-Il North Korea to have stability and to have a situation where neither China nor South Korea are overburdened by refugee flows.

VAN SUSTEREN: How do we know they have enough money? If they get $10, it does not go to feeding their people. It goes to their weapons program. But if their weapons program ends up costing $30, $40, or $50, they still do not have enough money for their weapons program.

Is it possible that they will be strangled economically so they can't even build their weapons program?

BOLTON: Well, there is some reason to believe that there may be an Iranian financial connection here, as well. Certainly Iran and North Korea trade information on ballistic missiles. We know that. That is been going on for over 10 years.

They may be trading information on the nuclear programs too. It has not gone unnoticed that North Korea was building a nuclear reactor in Syria, very unlikely that Syria could pay for that.

So the Iranian connection is quite significant. And it's a major reason why I do not think you can look at North Korea's nuclear program only as an east Asia problem. It is a Middle East problem, too.

VAN SUSTEREN: What about Japan? How long is Japan going to be patient, because they are very worried with the events that have occurred in the last couple of days, last couple of months? How long will Japan be patient?

BOLTON: I don't think that it's infinite. That's for sure. They are also quite concerned about North Korea's abduction of Japanese citizens. You can imagine how Americans would feel if North Korea were kidnapping our people. The North Koreans have never given full disclosure.

And the fact that North Korea has now exploded two nuclear devices in a country where, after all, Hiroshima and Nagasaki took place during World War II, is of enormous political consequence.

I think Japan also worries about the solidity of the American nuclear umbrella. And if they do not think we are there to protect their interests, it's a powerful argument for them to go nuclear, as well.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is so bizarre to me is that what I've been reading in the last two days is that the reason that they are launching these short-range missiles is, in part, so it is been reported, is that when on April 5, when they launched that rocket, and the United States and the U.N. Security Council, basically everyone said it was a flop, it was a failure, they got mad. And they want an apology for calling their launch anything but a peaceful launch of a satellite.

And because nobody is apologizing, they are now doing these nuclear tests and the short-range missiles.

BOLTON: I think the North Koreans are taking advantage of what they see as an opening. They have not seen a strong reaction to the Taepodong-2 launch in April or the nuclear test. They are doing other testing, clearly in violation of Resolution 1718.

Everything they do gives them more information and a greater capability to marry that nuclear device with a long-range missile. And that really would be the point at with we all need to worry a lot more.


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