Amb. John Bolton on Diplomatic Efforts to Confront North Korea

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 9, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight, joining us from New York, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.

Mr. Ambassador, you're going to once again try to get some action against North Korea in the Security Council of the United Nations. But most Americans don't believe the U.N. has any, any will to do anything to right wrongs in the world. Are we too pessimistic?

JOHN BOLTON, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well, I think this question of North Korea is very much a challenge for the Security Council. We'll have to see if the Council is up to the task of being effective in countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

On the first day's reaction to the president's speech and the proposals we've made for tough sanctions against North Korea, I think we're getting a lot of support. We'll know better tomorrow when countries come back in with instructions from their capitals. I don't want to be overly optimistic, to say the least, but there was no support for North Korea in the Council today.

O'REILLY: All right now, the analysis is that Russia and China, the two members of the Security Council that would probably hinder any direct action against North Korea, really want America weakened and on the defensive. Do you believe that, sir?

BOLTON: Well, I think I can speak specifically with respect to North Korea today. They were very muted in their statements. I think that North Korea's test was practically an insult particularly to China, which has gone out of its way to try and persuade North Korea not to make this test, and Russia to a lesser extent.

So North Korea has really kicked in the teeth, the two countries on the Council that could be its protectors. As I say, whether that translates into stiff sanctions, effective means to prevent North Korea from pursuing nuclear weapons, we'll have to see. That's our objective. We hope Russia and China cooperate.

O'REILLY: All right, so you can't handicap it. You're the ambassador. I understand that.

But look, there's no action against Iran, even — you know, we had Secretary Rice on this program a few months ago in the summer. And she said boy, wait until the end of August when the Security Council meets. There's going to be lots of action against Iran. Zippo. Nothing. Iran's thumbing its nose at the world, causing us all kinds of trouble in Iraq, as you know. Iran's behind that insurgency now. And we look weak in the world. We look weak, Mr. Ambassador. And I think that's a growing problem.

BOLTON: Well, let me try to explain. On Iran, we have gone out of our way to allow the Europeans, at their request, to keep trying to negotiate with Iran, to keep trying to induce them to take the step that's critical for us to sit down with Iran, that Iran suspend all of its uranium enrichment activities.

So we've proven — we've gone the extra mile. We've gone several extra miles, so that President Bush can demonstrate that he wants a peaceful, diplomatic solution to this crisis.

I think we're at the end of that. I think the Europeans now understand the Iranians are not going to give up their pursuit of nuclear weapons. We could well see Iran here in the Security Council by the end of this week. So it could be a busy time.

O'REILLY: Yes, you should — but I don't know whether the United States is powerful enough to take on Iran and North Korea without the help of Russia and China.

And the analysis is that Russia wants us weakened, because they don't like what we're doing in Georgia and the Ukraine. The Ukraine is thinking about entering NATO. Russia doesn't want that. So Russia's actively opposed to us right now.

And China's playing this real, real damaging game of enabling Iran and North Korea to weaken us.

Now, if both of those analyses are true, we got a problem here, sir.

BOLTON: Well, that analysis is true in part. But you know, President Bush spoke both with President Putin and with President Hu Jintao of China today.

And in terms of North Korea, our immediate focus, a nuclear North Korea cannot be in Russia or China's interest as well. If North Korea keeps this nuclear capacity, other countries in the region could go nuclear. That can't be good for China's economic development. And it can't be good over the long term for Russia.

So I think they've got more than one motive working here. We'll have to see.

O'REILLY: All right.

BOLTON: I can't predict this outcome. We hope they'll work with us.

O'REILLY: If you can't answer this question, just tell us you can't answer the question because I'm putting you on the spot. And you might not be able to answer the question. And everyone will understand that. Has the morass in Iraq weakened American power?

BOLTON: I honestly do not think so. Certainly it is consuming a lot of time and energy, but it's important that we prevail there to allow the democratic government to succeed.

It would be a mistake for our adversaries or those who don't wish us well, though, to assume that we're so consumed, that we can't effectively defend ourselves against other threats.

That's a mistake North Korea may have made through this test. I think it's a mistake Iran has been making by its persistent provocative manner. But it would be a big mistake to sell us short.

O'REILLY: So you believe that the United States is still powerful enough to protect our interests in light of all of the things that are going on in Iraq? Because that's the big question. And I think you're right. I think both Iran and North Korea say, they got so many problems in Iraq, we can do whatever we want to do. I'll give you the last word, Mr. Ambassador.

BOLTON: I think that's what they may well think, but it'd be a miscalculation on their part. We don't seek confrontation with anybody, but we are going to defend our interests. And we're still fully capable of doing it.

O'REILLY: All right, Mr. Ambassador, thank you. We appreciate it.

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