Bolton Calls State Department Weak on N. Korea

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In an interview with U.S. News, John Bolton, the recently resigned U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, argued that the State Department is likely to proffer more concessions to North Korea in light of the communist regime's intransigence in moving forward with denuclearization in return for energy, political, and other benefits.

"I fear that the State Department may now be in a 'save-the-deal' mode," said Bolton. "If you're in the 'save-the-deal' mode, anything is possible." The February 13 agreement arose from six-nation nuclear negotiations in Beijing; North Korea has stalled movement on the deal's terms until it directly recovers once-frozen funds from the Macao-based Banco Delta Asia.

Bolton, who was also the top arms control official in the first term of the Bush State Department, has emerged as a leading critic of the deal. The North Korean delays exert a dangerous effect here in Washington, he contended in the interview.

"It increases [State's] proclivity to concede more." He said that because North Korea has flouted an April 14 deadline to begin shutting down its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, "a lot of people are feeling the heat ... . My criticism is directed at the State Department." Bolton says he doubts North Korea will ever live up to the deal embraced by the administration. "North Korea won't voluntarily give up its nuclear weapons," he said, and the problem can be resolved only through a change of regimes in Pyongyang.

--Thomas Omestad