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Ambassador John R. Bolton Briefing on North Korea

Briefing on North Korea

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 12, 2006


Ambassador Bolton: Good afternoon. We've just finished Security Council discussion on the text of the North Korea resolution, and I reiterated that we're prepared to put the resolution in blue this afternoon, which, of course, would give us the ability to call for a vote on it tomorrow. It's still our hope and expectation that we can have a vote by the end of the week.

Subsequent to the Security Council meeting, I had a bilateral meeting with Ambassador Wang. It was a very good meeting, and we covered basically the entire scope of the resolution. And those discussions, I think, will continue.

So the process on any Security Council resolution can sometimes be difficult to explain, but I would say -- my judgment is there's still very strong support in the Council, growing support to get a resolution to get it wrapped up to send a strong message and to take operational steps because of the consequences of the attempted North Korean nuclear test.

Reporter: Ambassador, there are people who argue that, as distasteful as it should -- it might be, that North Korea should be offered incentives to go back on this path. I mean, where are the carrots in your resolution?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, the fact is, if North Korea were to go back to the six-party talks and comply with the September 2005 declaration that they agreed to leading to the complete verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of their nuclear program, they would have the possibility of a very different relationship with us and with much of the rest of the world. So the carrots have been there, in a sense, of a -- for North Korea of the possibility of ending its isolation, ending the terrible impoverishment of its people. It's the leadership of North Korea that can't find -- that can't seem to find the carrots that are out there.

Reporter: How sure are you to have a unanimous vote on the P-5?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, we're still working on that. We don't have it yet. Differences remain, and there are still differences on some important aspects of the resolution. We would -- we're going to continue to work on it, but we're not going to work on it at the cost of losing sending a swift and strong response.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, the Russian ambassador said that there are a number of very important diplomatic meetings going on over the next few days, and the Security Council should await the outcome of those meetings, which are taking place in Asia and in Moscow on Friday, Saturday and perhaps on Sunday. Is that too much to ask to wait until Monday, perhaps, for a vote?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I think that the Council should try to respond to a nuclear test within the same week that the test occurred. I don't think that's too much to ask for. I can remember other cases where the Council has responded in a very short period of time. This is a serious threat to international peace and security. And it's true that there are lots of meetings scheduled in lots of different places. We had a lot of meetings and a lot of statements and a lot of efforts before the North Korean nuclear test, and they didn't pay any attention to it. We had a lot of meetings and a lot of negotiations and a lot of statements that led to Resolution 1695, and North Korea got up and walked out of the Security Council chamber -- the 21st century equivalent of Nikita Khrushchev pounding his shoe on his desk in the General Assembly.

So we're certainly very much in favor of keeping all the diplomatic channels open, but we also want swift action. And we shouldn't allow meetings and more meetings and more meetings and more meetings to be an excuse for inaction.

Reporter: Ambassador, do you think -- if you don't get a vote tomorrow, will you work through the weekend to try to force a vote?

Ambassador Bolton: I'm a 24/7 kind of guy. That's right.

Reporter: Ambassador, is the United States insistent on the full cover of Chapter VII, of the Chapter VII mandate, because that provides the legal justification for maybe violent interdiction activities --

Ambassador Bolton: This is absolutely not the case. It is simply incorrect to say that the phrase "acting under Chapter VII," which is a traditional way the Security Council expresses its intention to have a binding resolution -- simply incorrect to say that that phrase somehow authorizes the use of force. That has never been the position of any of the Perm 5 members. It wasn't the position before the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. It wasn't the position of the United States after the adoption of 1441. It hasn't been the position of the Perm 5 since then.

The phrase "acting under Chapter VII of the charter" is a way of denoting that the full panoply of the Security Council's weight is being thrown behind the resolution. And it would require a separate resolution, if one were needed, to authorize force. This was the case when the Council adopted Resolution 661, the total embargo of Iraq after it invaded Kuwait. It required a separate resolution, 665, to authorize the use of force to enforce the sanctions, and it required 678 to authorize the use of force to expel Iraq from Kuwait.

The phrase "acting under Chapter VII" is a phrase that we need in the arsenal of the Security Council, and you should not take it as -- or accept the arguments of those who make an argument that that somehow implies the use of force. It absolutely does not. I don't know of anybody -- I don't know of any member government in the UN that says actually when we put that phrase in, that's what we mean.

Reporter: (Inaudible) Chapter VII, Article 41?

Ambassador Bolton: Sometimes it has and sometimes it hasn't.

Reporter: Yes. Mr. Ambassador, it sounds like the Chinese have proposed some new ideas and that this inspection of cargo is creating a bit of a problem for the internal politics of Russia and China. How willing are you to go into these ideas of China, and how far will you go with them?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, as I understand the concerns that have been raised about the inspection regime is that North Korea could use it as an excuse for provocation. Certainly Russia has no trouble with the concept, since they're a core group member of the Proliferation Security Initiative. And I believe that we've said, and I've said several times to the Chinese, that if they have proposals that can help reduce the possibility of North Korea using inspections as a provocation, we're prepared to take a look at it.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, based on the rhetoric from Pyongyang, are you concerned that adopting this resolution might lead to a second test?

Ambassador Bolton: You know, it's very interesting. The number of delegations in the Council today said that North Korea's continuing behavior, this level of rhetoric, really reinforces in their view why the Security Council needs to make a strong response. So I think if North Korea thinks that it's succeeding in intimidating other Council members, they're very much mistaken.

Reporter: Ambassador, you have several incidents now of Sudan defying the Security Council, North Korea defying the Security Council. Is there an erosion in the Security Council's authority?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I wouldn't want to characterize it that way. But I would say this: for those who think that the Security Council ought to have a central role in the maintenance of international peace and security, I'd like to know why we shouldn't place the highest priority on making sure that the Council's word is heeded. And those who say, "Well, you know, we can just let it go here or there," you know, I think undermine the Council. Now, that may not be their objective, but that's the objective consequence of what happens.

Reporter: How keen are you to send a message to Iran through this process with North Korea?

Ambassador Bolton: I am sure they're watching in Tehran what we do on this North Korea resolution, and I hope they watch closely. Thank you very much.


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