North’s tests endanger allies and forces: BoltonU.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton on Wednesday slammed North Korea’s recent short range missile launches, saying they violated UN resolutions and posed threats to U.S. allies in the region.
Speaking to Voice of America contributor Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday, Bolton said the variant of the Russian-made Iskander missile that North Korea claimed to have tested in multiple weapons tests in late July and early August, dubbed by the United States and South Korea as KN-23, had a range that “could probably hit all of South Korea and parts of Japan.”
“That, of course, would endanger our deployed forces as well,” he said.
Bolton added that while the weapons tested by the North in a series of five launches from July 25 to Aug. 10 did not constitute a violation of the promise North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made to U.S. President Donald Trump to not to test nukes or long-range missiles, they were still “troubling for everyone watching the peninsula.”
The leading North Korea hardliner in the Trump administration also brought up his observations of “the pattern of North Korean leadership” in its earlier nuclear negotiations with the United States, saying that Pyongyang repeatedly failed to honor its commitments once it had reaped tangible economic benefits.
“If they think that they can do that again, I think they’re making a big mistake,” he added.
These words from the White House’s top security aide marks one of the strongest condemnations of the North’s provocations yet, but put forward from a figure within Trump’s inner circle they markedly belie the president’s own conciliatory stance toward Pyongyang.
Last Friday, Trump even appeared to agree with the North’s logic for carrying out the weapons tests as stated in a recent missive he received from Kim, saying the United States’ ongoing joint military drills with Seoul were “ridiculous and expensive.”
In the same letter, according to Trump, Kim said the North would stop the testing once the exercises end. With the combined drills set to continue until next Tuesday, the two sides are expected to resume working level talks as early as the final week of August.
Washington’s delegation in these upcoming talks was expected to be led by the Stephen Biegun, the State Department’s special representative for North Korea, but a series of press reports in the United States say Biegun is likely to take over the position of U.S. ambassador to Russia.
While no official announcements have yet been made on this account, a potential reshuffle could serve as an acknowledgement from the White House that earlier working level talks with Pyongyang - which culminated in Trump walking out of his summit with Kim at Hanoi, Vietnam, in February - have gone nowhere.
In South Korea, which continues to be the North’s scapegoat in its sabre rattling, the Moon Jae-in administration is persevering with its pursuit of the resumption of nuclear negotiations as soon as possible.
In a public address commemorating the anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule, President Moon called Pyongyang’s tests a series of “worrying actions,” but reiterated his faith in the process by adding that the “momentum of dialogue remains unshaken.”
BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [firstname.lastname@example.org]