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Bolton Briefing on North Korea, Iran, and Others

Briefing on North Korea, Iran, and Other Matters

Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks to the media following a Security Council Stakeout
New York City
October 4, 2006


Ambassador Bolton: Well, for those few of you who are here, the views that we expressed this morning on the North Korean threat to test a nuclear weapon were, I think, very clear. We have said for some time we think the Council has to take a strategic approach to make this a case of effective preventive diplomacy. We need an approach that dissuades North Korea from carrying through on its threat, which we do think is a serious threat. We don't think this is a diplomatic ploy or an attention-getting device.

So we think it's going to be quite important for the Council to speak very firmly, very resolutely on this, and not just in a knee-jerk reaction with another piece of paper. I'm not sure that everybody on the council shares that view, and I'm not sure what the outcome this afternoon will be of the experts meeting that's been convened. We're going to press very hard for a strong statement as the beginning of a concerted strategy to dissuade North Korea from conducting the tests. But I think candor requires that I say the outcome of this process is very much in doubt. So we're going to work hard at it, but we'll have to see what happens.

Reporter: Ambassador, your -- he -- Ambassador Parry said that he is at one with you as far as a strategic response, but he did not explain exactly what that might detail. Can you go further into what you would envision as perhaps the architect of a strategic response here?

Ambassador Bolton: Right. Well, I think the first thing we need to say is, North Korea has to rescind this threat. This is not an appropriate way to behave. It violates, in many respects, the spirit if not the letter of Resolution 1695, which called on North Korea to refrain from any further provocative actions. The United States has more than 30,000 deployed troops on the Korean peninsula, and the notion that North Korea's even threatening to conduct a nuclear test is a grave provocation.

So I think we need to make it clear that the threat has to be withdrawn, step one. Step two, we need to move North Korea back into compliance with its commitment in September of 2005 in the six-party talks, to come back to the six-party talks, to rejoin the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty and a series of other steps. And then I think we also need to make it clear, to show this sort of road map for the North Koreans, that if they proceed with the test, we're going to have a Chapter VII resolution that carries sanctions beyond 1695, and we're prepared to consider other measures as well.

I invited comments in the Security Council this morning on the broad strategic approach because I do think we need to do this; we cannot simply respond with a piece of paper. I pointed out that when North Korea launched ballistic missiles on the 4th of July, the Council responded with a unanimous resolution that condemned those launches and that imposed penalties on North Korea, as well. And I fear that if we don't have a strong response now to this clear signal from the North Koreans of what they intend to do, that they will misread the Council, they will misread a weak press statement or presidential statement as meaning that their protectors within the Council have made it clear the Council can't act effectively. So this is going to be an important decision point for the Council.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, could you tell us what the response was from the Council, given statements by both the Japanese and French saying that they wanted a quick statement, and the Chinese saying that they believed that the Security Council was not the right place to discuss this? And I have an Iran question at the end, after you finish.

Ambassador Bolton: Okay. Well, on the North Korea question, as I say, we will find out in this experts meeting this afternoon what North Korea's protectors on the Council are going to do. And I think we've made clear, I think the British have made clear, the French, the Japanese, what their view is. Now we'll wait to see how it plays out in the view of others.

Reporter: But have you been not satisfied with your allies' response, though? I mean, specifically Japan, are they on the same page as far as the kind of response that you're envisioning, or has there been disagreement already in the council among allies?

Ambassador Bolton: I think we're going to have to see. The Japanese handed out the text of a statement this morning. We're going to have to take a look at that and consider it this afternoon. We want a strong response. We want a strong response.

Reporter: Ambassador, would you say at this stage that there is divide in the Security Council -- at this stage of the issue?

Ambassador Bolton: At this stage I think there is division, yes.

Reporter: Ambassador, what is the signal that this division exists? What is the signal not only to North Korea, but also, as you pointed out, to other nations, including Iran, that are trying the same path? I mean, the signal is that we can't even coalesce around a weak statement.

Ambassador Bolton: Well, we're going to continue to work. Our view is we want a strong statement. That's our objective. We think that's the objective of a number of other members and close allies of the United States on the Council. We're going to push for it, and we'll see what the Council comes up with.

Reporter: But the Council is not unified, so how is that going to affect real events on the ground and North Korea and Iran?

Ambassador Bolton: We'll have to see, won't we?

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, this morning Javier Solana said that endless hours of talks with the Iranians had not produced an agreement to suspend uranium enrichment, and he said that Iran will now have to decide whether they're going to agree or face possible sanctions. Are you prepared to raise the sanctions issue soon in the Council?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, we haven't discussed sanctions here in New York for weeks -- many weeks, lots of weeks. But as soon as I'm instructed, I'm prepared to begin as soon as the cable comes in.

Reporter: I have a question on Georgia. Will the United States support the resolution on Georgia introduced by Russia yesterday?

Ambassador Bolton: Not in its current form, no.

Reporter: What are your objections?

Ambassador Bolton: I think that the draft resolution as the -- as was the draft presidential statement is unfair and unbalanced. It doesn't reflect an accurate assessment of the situation on the ground. We're going to have to work to amend it.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, is there any possibility for bilateral talks with North Korea? Or is there any way that you're planning to entice them to get back into six-party talks? Or is there any room for negotiating on sanctions?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, to be clear, we've had bilateral contact with the North Koreans in the context of the six-party talks. So if the North Koreans want bilateral contact, it's very easy, very easy to get to the United States. All they have to do is return to the six-party talks, which for 13 months they've declined to do.

Reporter: (Inaudible) get back into the six-party talks? Do you have any proposals, any ideas for how to encourage them because they've said many times --

Ambassador Bolton: Buy a plane ticket to Beijing.

Reporter: With these current sanctions they're not going back into the --

Ambassador Bolton: By a plane ticket to Beijing.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, again, at which stage or sequence of this crisis would the Security Council go back to the Chapter VII? How can you envisage the issue?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, unquestionably in our view, if North Korea were to test, that would be the occasion for a strong Chapter VII Resolution, but we want to hear from others if there aren't other steps. I think it's important, as I've said, North Korea withdraw this threat to test, and we hope others will be thinking strategically as well.

Reporter: Ambassador, is the division in the Council just based on the substance of what the response should be or that there should be any response at all or that -- the Council should have no play in this?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, the -- Ambassador Wang said he had no instructions today. So I'm not sure whether there's even a possibility. In that circumstance, we can have a response today. Let me just try and get some other people if there are.

Reporter: Are there any new names in for the secretary-general -- or let me -- please tell me, are there any new names in the --

Ambassador Bolton: No North Korean names, no.

Reporter: No secretary-general candidates? Nobody has come in? You were disappointed there weren't more names? There's still a few days left --

Ambassador Bolton: I'm not aware of any new entrants at this point or any interest of anybody of coming in.

Reporter: Does the United States have any initial reactions to this text that you said was circulated by the Japanese this morning?

Ambassador Bolton: No. We're going to review it, be prepared to discuss it this afternoon.

Reporter: Ambassador, considering the timing of this announcement by North Korea, do you think it had anything -- any linkage or anything to do with the possible potential election of Ban Ki-moon, because he's from South Korea and the South Koreans' relationship with the United States. I mean, you're a seasoned diplomat. That must approach your mind every once in a while.

Ambassador Bolton: I don't spend a lot of time trying to figure out the mentality that produces these kinds of results. But let me be clear -- because I do think this is a matter of considerable seriousness -- we do not see the North Korean announcement as simply an attention-getting device of saying, "See me, see me." We think this reflects in the logic that prevails in Pyongyang most likely an accurate statement of their intention to test a nuclear weapon. That's why we think it's extremely important for the Security Council to develop an effective course of preventive diplomacy to try and dissuade North Korea from conducting that test. I mean, it is that serious to us. One more.

Reporter: Yes, sir. But the Security Council, you just said, is divided. How would you treat this issue? How would you bring other people of the Security Council to your own point of view?

Ambassador Bolton: I hope to persuade them to the view that we and others on the Council already have, that this is a grave and serious matter and that North Korea needs to be persuaded one way or another not to conduct this test.

Okay? Thanks.

Released on October 4, 2006


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