CNN reports finds Bolton’s intentionally made “Libya” remarks to derail Singapore summit

Posted on : 2018-06-07 16:35 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Trump cuts national security advisor from North Korea-related issues
White House national security advisor John Bolton made direct references to the “Libya model” for North Korea’s denuclearization on Fox News on Apr. 29.
White House national security advisor John Bolton made direct references to the “Libya model” for North Korea’s denuclearization on Fox News on Apr. 29.

White House national security advisor John Bolton’s reference to the “Libya model” was meant to derail the scheduled North Korea-US summit, and an infuriated US President Donald Trump sidelined him from North Korea-related issues in response, a report alleges.

According to a June 6 report by CNN, US State Department officials believe Bolton made the inflammatory remarks in a deliberate attempt to sabotage dialogue with North Korea.

In an Apr. 29 interview with Fox News, Bolton said the US had “very much in mind the Libya model from 2003, 2004” in terms of a resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue. Giving a definition of denuclearization as meaning the initial complete abandonment of all nuclear-related facilities and materials, Bolton said the only solution would be quickly relocate nuclear warheads and ICBMs to Oak Ridge.

In response to Bolton’s “Libya model” remarks, North Korea announced in a statement by First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kye-gwan that it might reconsider the summit with Trump. Bolton’s argument was carried on by Vice President Mike Pence, who warned that “this will only end like the Libyan model ended [i.e., with the fall of leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and his death at the hands of rebels] if Kim Jong Un doesn’t make a deal.”

His remarks prompted an ad hominem attack from North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui, who referred to him as a “political dummy.” The situation threatened to derail the summit as Trump responded to Pyongyang’s outcry with a May 24 letter cancelling the North Korea-US summit.

The CNN report quoted a State Department official as saying that while Bolton knew his remarks would have negative effects, he initially made them out of the belief that the North Korea-US summit would “not go in the right direction” for the US. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the State Department official said Bolton wanted to “blow up” the talks by taking a “big hammer” to the preparations.

A source was quoted as saying his remarks infuriated both Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who held a discussion on the matter on the White House. As a result, Bolton was “cut out” of all North Korea-US summit preparations and North Korea-related issues by Trump.

Indeed, Bolton has not spoken publicly about the North Korea-US summit ever since, nor was he in attendance when Workers’ Party of Korea vice chairman and United Front Department director Kim Yong-chol met with Trump at the White House on June 1. It is considered unusual for the White House National Security Advisor not to be present when the President is meeting with a foreign official on an important security matter.

Bolton was previously excluded from the US’s delegation to the Six-Party Talks on the North Korean issue in 2003 after Pyongyang’s objections to his remarks denouncing North Korea. While serving as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security during the George W. Bush administration, he gave a talk in which he denounced then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il as a “tyrannical dictator.”

In response, North Korea attacked Bolton as “human scum” and a “bloodsucker.” After North Korea blocked progress in a preliminary meeting for the Six-Party Talks over the Bolton issue, Bush pulled him from the running as the US’s representative to those talks – a position he had already been the de facto nominee for.

By Jeong Eui-gil, senior staff writer

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

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