Published January 13, 2015
Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) defended a controversial speech by his top nonproliferation aide in which he launched a series of personal attacks on North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
Powell, in a Tuesday letter to Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., said the speech by Undersecretary of State John Bolton (search) was fully cleared by the State Department and was consistent with administration policy.
The letter, Powell wrote, "did not really break new ground with regard to our disdain for the North Korean leadership and, as such, was official."
The State Department made the letter public Tuesday night.
In his speech, given four weeks ago in South Korea, Bolton said of Kim, "To give in to his extortionist demands would only encourage him and, perhaps more ominously, other would-be tyrants around the world."
The speech included more than 40 personal attacks on Kim.
Kyl had written to Powell that the administration was sending "mixed messages" on its North Korea (search) policy.
He contrasted Bolton's speech with comments by State Department official Jack Pritchard in which he reportedly told North Korean U.N. officials that the speech reflected Bolton's personal views and not U.S. policy.
Powell said Kyl's information was wrong. Pritchard, Powell wrote, "did not say or imply that Mr. Bolton was speaking only in a personal capacity."
On Monday, the State Department announced that Pritchard was leaving the State Department to take a job in the private sector.
There have been reports that Pritchard disagreed with U.S. policy toward North Korea. He has denied that the Bolton speech contributed to his decision to resign.
Powell said in the letter that Pritchard agreed to remain on at the State Department for a while longer at Powell's request.