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North Korea

Trump’s ultra-hawkish security adviser hails Libya as model for North Korea’s denuclearisation

National Security Adviser John Bolton says Libya, which has been ravaged by civil war since a disastrous US-led military intervention, is ‘very much in mind’

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 April, 2018, 10:41pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 April, 2018, 11:15pm

Libya’s decision to give up its nuclear programme through diplomacy is a model for efforts to have North Korea do likewise, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Sunday.

“We have very much in mind the Libya model from 2003, 2004,” Bolton told Fox News Sunday when asked whether North Korea would have to fully give up its nuclear weapons, fuel and missiles before the US makes concessions.

“There are obviously differences – the Libyan programme was much smaller. But that was basically the agreement that we made,” Bolton said.

“We’ll want to test North Korea in this first meeting for evidence that they have made this strategic decision” to end their programme, he said.

But Libya’s move to scrap its nuclear programme also serves as a model of what North Korea fears will happen: its government was later overthrown by rebels supported by Western air strikes and weapons.

Pyongyang regularly cites the fates of Saddam Hussein in Iraq – whose government was overthrown in a US-led invasion – and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, as evidence of the need for nuclear arms.

Bolton also suggested that the US isn’t ready to ease sanctions or offer other concessions to Pyongyang.

“I think that’s what denuclearisation means,” Bolton said, adding later that the Trump administration isn’t “starry-eyed” when it comes to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s recent promises.

“Now we’ve got other things to talk about, as well – ballistic missiles, chemical and biological weapons, the American hostages, the Japanese abductees,” Bolton said. “But starting on the nuclear side with what North Korea agreed to nearly a quarter-century ago is a pretty good place to start.”

Bolton went a step further on CBS’ Face the Nation, suggesting North Korea release American prisoners as “a demonstration of their sincerity” before the meeting between Trump and Kim.

Bolton’s comments came two days after Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in issued a rare joint statement committing to “complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”. Since then, South Korean leaders have said that North Korea would be open to allowing security experts and journalists to observe the closure of one of the North’s key test sites.

Bolton told Fox that the details are still being negotiated.

“We need to agree on a place, and that remains an issue,” he said. “But if, in fact, Kim has made a strategic decision to give up his entire nuclear weapons programme, then I think deciding on the place and the date should be fairly easy.”

He also said the statement from the North and the South would not necessarily mean the US would remove its military assets from the region, explaining that Washington officials “certainly haven’t made that commitment”.

Already, Trump’s new secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has huddled with the North Korean leader. “My goal was to try and identify if there was a real opportunity there. I believe there is,” Pompeo said on ABC’s This Week.

Asked about potential outcomes, Pompeo said he “talked about getting the release of the American detainees and then we talked a great deal about what it might look like, what this complete, verifiable, irreversible mechanism might look like”.

Yet he declined to say whether there would be any reward for North Korea – perhaps in the form of sanctions relief – if it took additional, early steps toward dismantling its nuclear programme.

“We have our eyes wide open,” Pompeo said multiple times.

Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, Washington Post