Washington held closed-door talks on N. Korean regime change, says Bolton

Posted on : 2022-10-25 15:21 KST Modified on : 2022-10-25 15:21 KST
The former White House national security advisor gave said that “it would be an option” to destroy the North’s nuclear facilities
John Bolton, the former White House national security advisor, pays a visit to the South Korean Ministry of National Defense in July 2019. (Hankyoreh file photo)
John Bolton, the former White House national security advisor, pays a visit to the South Korean Ministry of National Defense in July 2019. (Hankyoreh file photo)

Former White House national security advisor John Bolton, a prominent North Korea hard-liner in the US, has explicitly and publicly stated that discussions were held within the US government about regime change in North Korea. In addition, Bolton argued that North Korean nuclear facilities should be destroyed if necessary for the security of the US and its allies.

Bolton appeared on Voice of America on Saturday, where he said he thinks regime change in North Korea “remains entirely possible” when asked what options other than diplomacy remain for dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue.

When asked if there had been any closed-door talks about regime change for North Korea within the US government, Bolton said, “Certainly there have been discussions about regime change in a lot of different places over the years.”

Bolton argued that, while external intervention is not necessarily needed for regime change, North Koreans who do not want to live in “tyranny" must be supported.

He continued to reply to repeated questions, saying “there have been a lot of discussions about regime change in North Korea," adding that “I have participated in some of them, others have participated in others.”

Bolton continued with his hawkish remarks, arguing that it would be a “dereliction of duty” for a government that should be protecting innocent civilians from nuclear attack to think of “options.”

“The United States will not be held to blackmail by North Korea or any other rogue state,” Bolton underscored. “If, to protect the United States, South Korea, Japan, and others, it were necessary to destroy North Korea’s nuclear program facilities, that would be an option.”

Bolton did not specify when, in what form, or what the details were of the talks US government officials held regarding North Korean regime change.

In April 2018, two months before the first US-North Korea summit, Bolton was appointed as then-President Donald Trump’s national security advisor. At the time, however, the Trump administration’s official position was that it was not pushing for regime change in North Korea.

Considering the fact that Bolton mentioned “the Kim Jong-un hereditary communist dictatorship” during the interview, it is possible that the talks took place while Kim Jong-un was in power.

However, the fact that Bolton served as assistant secretary of state and US ambassador to the UN when Kim Jong-il was in power may suggest that there were discussions on regime change in the past as well.

Regarding the February 2019 US-North Korea summit in Hanoi, Bolton is seen as one of the main individuals who played a decisive role in raising the level of US demands and ending the summit with no agreement.

On this subject, Bolton argues that the summit ended “quite correctly” in no deal with North Korea, adding, “I don’t think diplomacy will ever result in North Korea ending its nuclear program.”

By Lee Bon-young, Washington correspondent

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

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