North Korea poses a potential deadly threat to the United States, according to former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. Bolton told an audience on March 11 that North Korea would sell nuclear technology to terrorist organizations, specifically Al-Qaida, given the opportunity.
“North Korea continues its record-breaking career as one of the world’s most lawless states – a country that will sell anything to anybody for hard currencies,” Bolton said. “[It] is the world’s largest proliferator of ballistic missiles technology, largely in the sensitive Middle East. It sells illicit narcotics through its diplomatic pouches. It counterfeits American money. And, if Al-Qaida ever came up with a requisite amount of hard currency, I have no doubt that North Korea would be more than happy to transfer one of its nuclear devices or other nuclear technology.”
Bolton was promoting his book, “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations” at the McLean Community Center in McLean, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C.
North Korea has shown it’s willingness to engage with hostile regimes in the Middle East. Bolton said he was convinced the North Koreans were involved in Syrian efforts to manufacture a nuclear weapon. In September 2007, Israeli commandos raided a Syrian facility and it was reported nuclear material of North Korean origin was discovered.
However, one of the hurdles standing in the way of the United States in dealing more harshly with the North Koreans has been China, a major trading partner.
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“[T]ime and time again, people in the United States will say we need to tell China this issue or that issue is important,” Bolton said. “We think it is important that they not threaten Taiwan militarily and that we make it clear we won’t tolerate aggression against Taiwan or democracy on Taiwan or threaten Taiwan – or that we say want Taiwan to be more tolerant of Tibet, give Tibet more autonomy. Or, we want China to put more pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.”
The reason for this reluctance according to Bolton involves the important role China plays in our economy – what he called “the lure of the Chinese market.”
“[W]e talk about that a lot and the reason it never happens is the lure of the Chinese market is sufficient to over come a lot of these political objectives that we have,” Bolton said. “And so instead, we find the Chinese keep their currency undervalued. They’ve got an enormous trade surplus with us. I’d like to know at what point we’re willing to say to China, ‘You know, we actually have American policy objectives we’d like to pursue with you’ and that the lure of the Chinese market would be overcome.”