Bolton Meets the Press at Tokyo Embassy Roundtable
Under Secretary of State John R. Bolton
US & International Media
U.S. Embassy, Tokyo, Japan
February 10, 2005
MODERATOR: Ladies and Gentlemen, we are on the record this morning with Under Secretary of State John Bolton. Do you want to just take questions?
U/S BOLTON: I have just one or two quick things to say. I've been here in consultation with the Japanese on a variety of subjects, including their second ASTOP conference – the Asia Senior Leader Talks on Proliferation (Asia Senior-level Talks on Non-proliferation), which is a Japanese-hosted event. As I say, this is the second one where we talk a lot about proliferation issues in the region, and particularly the role of the Proliferation Security Initiative, and the progress we've made in that. I've also had extensive discussions with a variety of Japanese officials on the subject of the EU arms embargo on China, on North Korea, on Iran, and on a number of other issues as well. That's been the general subject matter. It's part of our regular consultations with the Japanese on these issues. Perhaps I just stop there and open to questions.
QUESTION: I am Jim Brooke, New York Times. I think we met at PSI that we did two months ago.
U/S BOLTON: Were you the only one on board ship for "Team Samurai" in this group or are there other veterans as well.
QUESTION: (Jim Brooke, New York Times) Someone else was there, I think. Since then we've had the apparent revelations that North Korea transferred this material to Libya. Let's hear a little bit more about that, I mean how long we've known about that? Was it sold directly to Libya? And who else has North Korea has been selling or trading this stuff to; where else have they been going?
U/S BOLTON: It probably won't surprise you that I won't get into specifics of that issue, because of our concern about sensitive intelligence matter. Let me just say this on the subject. We have learned a lot about the A. Q. Khan network. In part we've learned from Khan's confession, where he acknowledged that he had sold nuclear weapons technology and equipment to three countries, North Korea, Iran and Libya. We have been vigorously pursuing with a number of other governments with the other aspects of the Khan network, looking to learn more about what precisely he did know three countries and whether or not there are other customers. But I think it's fair to say that the breadth and sophistication of Khan's network were extremely troubling to us, and the prospect of nuclear cooperation between and among the customers, whether facilitated by Khan or not, is something that is very troubling to us. We have known, believed for sometime that, for example there has been cooperation between North Korea and Iran on ballistic missile technology. So that, for example, while the North Koreans maintain a moratorium on launch testing from the Korean Peninsula, obviously they are in a position to benefit from the results of Iranian ballistic missile testing. And if this cooperation extends in the nuclear field, as well, that would be another troubling development. We are still evaluating a lot of we've learned from the Libyan decision to renounce to pursuit of the nuclear weapons. And as I said, we are pursuing the investigations on the Khan network with variety of different countries through both law enforcement and intelligence channels, and that work continues. That's really all I can say about it not withstanding that it appeared in the pages of The New York Times. I just can't go any further than that.
QUESTION: Condoleezza Rice was speaking yesterday about Iran and said that the United States had not set a deadline. I'm wondering if there is any…how are you going to assess whether it’s time to go to the Security Council or not? If there is not a deadline for action in Iran's part, then what are you looking for?
U/S BOLTON: Well, I think she said, we've felt for a matter of years now that the Iranian nuclear weapons program should be referred to the Security Council and she laid out very clearly in the Fox News interview, what our view has been on Iran and as communicated to the Europeans. The EU-three negotiations with Iran have now been underway for a year and a half, really beginning August of 2003, but particularly after the October 2003 agreement, which broke down in June of 2004. The Europeans went back and negotiated again and got another agreement in November of 2004, agreement for Iranian suspension of its…purported suspension…of its uranium enrichment program. We're concerned that the suspension is not complete and that in various ways, out of the gaze of the IAEA, that the Iranians continue to do things like perfecting the problems they had with uranium conversion and uranium enrichment activities. So that the suspension is not complete and that the Iranians are still making progress toward a completely indigenous nuclear fuel cycle capability, that is to say, a capability that does not rely on purchases or imports of technology or equipment from outside of the country. So that's a long way of saying that the negotiations are not cost-free in the sense of the Iranian ability to proceed toward their objective of achieving a nuclear weapons capability. And the Iranians themselves repeatedly, and President Khatami as recently as yesterday has said again that Iran would never give up its uranium enrichment efforts, which of course is a sine qua non for the EU-three, of the deal they want to cut with Iran. But all that I said, I think as Dr. Rice put it very clearly, the Iranians now have a window where they can make the same strategic decision that Libya made to give up the pursuit of nuclear weapons and they really ought to take it, because the next step, again we've said for quite some time, is that the matter should be referred to the Security Council. But that's not with the particular deadline. I don't think that would be helpful. I think the EU-three know that they don't have an infinite period of time to conduct these negotiations.
QUESTION: Right, but what's going be the tripwire that will then lead you to conclude that this is futile process and we've got to go to the Security Council.
U/S BOLTON: There is not a direct answer to that question. Other than, and I'll just say again, we felt for two years that we ought to be in the Security Council, so we are ready to go right now. And I think that's appropriate. The Security Council is the body charged by the U.N. Charter with dealing with threats to international peace and security. That's what the Iranian nuclear weapons program is.
QUESTION: So, I'm sorry to just belabor this one…for just a minute…So what's stopping you from going to the Security Council today?
BOLTON: I think as a practical matter when we're in the Council we want to see if the Council can take an effective action. And the British and the French in this case, the two permanent members of the Council, are proceeding with their effort. As we've said, that is an effort we support, to get the Iranians to the point where they give up the pursuit of nuclear weapons. I think what Dr. Rice said very clearly yesterday is that the Iranians need to understand perhaps better than they do that if that point is not reach, then we will be in the Security Council with the support of the British and the French, and we hope, as well, the Russians and Chinese.
QUESTION: (Steven Herman, VOA) Getting back to The New York Times article, which also mentioned the emissary being sent from the White House to get the Chinese moving a little more aggressive on the North Korean nuclear, and the other day in your speech, of course, you were talking a lot about the embargo and the sanctions on the Chinese. I am just wondering in light of that, are you optimistic that the Chinese will be aggressive in bringing the North Koreans back to the table and putting appropriate pressure, when at the same time the United Sates is putting pressure on the Chinese regarding WMD exports.
U/S BOLTON: Well, we have a complex relationship with China and we cooperate in many areas. In other areas we have difficulties. It's a mature enough the relationship that we are direct and frank each other on these points. So I don't think that disagreement in one area precludes cooperation with another. I would say with respect to North Korea, you know, they have stalled on coming back to a fourth round. They were waiting for President Bush to lose the November election, and that didn't happen. They have been waiting for other things, the latest being what the president said in his inaugural address and the State of the Union. Those are now over. There aren't any other reasons that I know of for the North Koreans not to come back to the talks. And I think we have certainly made that clear. We're prepared to talk as soon as the Chinese can logistically put another round of the six-party talks together. It's been almost eight months since the third round. We're ready for the forth round to begin. We think the North Korean need to come to that conclusion. As I say, we are ready to go, and I think the other governments in the six-party talks are also ready to go.
QUESTION: You mentioned conversations you've been having with European officials about the EU's plans or proposals to resume arms sales to China. Could you talk a bit about that? I mean would it be fair to say that you think that would be a terrible mistake?
U/S BOLTON: We are strongly opposed to a lifting of embargo. We've made this point to the Europeans. As Secretary Rice has said in a number of interviews, you know, we have had extensive consultations with the Europeans. I've been involved in, and others have been, both in the State Department and the Defense Department. We've made clear what our concerns are and I'll just lay them out quickly, because they fall in the three categories. The first is that it would be a mistake to signal to the Chinese that we are no longer concerned about the human rights record. I won't elaborate on that except to refer you that the State Department's annual report on human rights around the world, which has a very extensive discussion what our concerns are about the human rights situation in China. Second, we are concerned, as is Japan, about the impact on the strategic configuration in East Asia. If the PLA were acquire particularly sophisticated European technology. The European embargo is little bit different from the U.S. and the Japanese embargo. Number one, it's interpreted differently by different European states. Part of difficulty in our understanding it is that while it is an EU-wide policy, the different number of governments interpret differently. So, some, for example, treat it as an embargo only on the sale of lethal weapons, which is of concern to us. But what we are really concerned about is the transfer of what we call the battle space management technology. What the experts call for C4ISR technology – Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence Surveillance, and Reconnaissance. This is the technology that goes under the rubric of the revolution in military affairs, but which allows for substantially more sophisticated use of military power and the projection of that power through sea and air forces broadly in the East Asia region. Japan has strategic concerns in East Asia and the United States has strategic concerns and we've been explaining these to the Europeans, in a variety of different ways. What we have been discussing with the Europeans is how to take those concerns into account. I think Secretary Rice said that she was pleased with the openness of the European governments to have these discussions, but we have not reached a conclusion yet. So there is a considerable amount more work to be done. We want to try to reach that conclusion before the European Union lifts the embargo, because—and this brings me to the third point—if the embargo is lifted, I think there is a grave risk of impairment to the transatlantic defense procurement community. And if there is any doubt about that, I would simply refer you to the House of Representative's resolution passed last week by a vote of 411 to 3, which criticized the prospect of the EU lifting its arms embargo, saying it would raise questions that go to the heart of the transatlantic defense relationship. We do not want to impair that, we do not want to see that jeopardized. But feeling in Congress on this score is very strong, as reflected in that resolution, which was a Sense of the House Resolution, but which could find expression in legislation, if the embargo is lifted precipitously.
QUESTION: Can you point to particular product and/or particular companies, which would particularly concern you if they started to do business with the Chinese?
U/S BOLTON: Well, the sorts of things that I'm talking about when I say battle space management, that if you watched the progress of the military campaign by the coalition forces in Iraq, the sophisticated use of the C4ISR capability, because in any prospective standoff in a military sense in East Asia, we don't want to have American forces faced with either European technology of that sort or, even worse, American technology that's been licensed to Europe that might find its way to the PLA. So, this is a very direct concern of ours and, as Dr. Rice, says this is the concern we've been conveying to the Europeans to try to explain the strategic considerations that we have in mind, and Japan has been doing the same on their part.
QUESTION: Is there a piece of kit that you can point to as an example of that?
U/S BOLTON: I think there are a lot of pieces we could point to, but they have to do with the integration of air and naval power, surface and sub-sea, and the added force projection capability that that gives to any military that has those capabilities; in a way as sophisticated as some of European countries have, in that they could potentially sell to China in the absence of a mechanism to take our concerns into account. And that is what we've been working on with the Europeans.
QUESTION: Last point…You mentioned the alarming possibility that U.S. technology might find its way to the Chinese through Europe. I'm far from being expert on this kind of thing, but that sounds like a loop hole should have been plugged much earlier. Is that really a possibility?
U/S BOLTON: We have, in all our licensing of technology under the U.S. military list, we have prohibitions about onward disseminations of that technology. But human beings are imperfect and licensing arrangements sometimes fail. That is an element of it and we are dealing, in any political-military analysis, you deal with intentions and capabilities. And what we are talking about here are capabilities.
QUESTION: Let me go back to the North Korea issue. You said that you think the U.S. is ready to go and other governments are already to go. Have you had any indication at all from China when North Korea might be?
U/S BOLTON: I am not aware that we have. I think Chinese have been in conversation with North Koreans on a regular bases, but there is no doubt and I think we've made it clear to China and other participants in the six-party talks that we are prepared to proceed at the earliest possible opportunity. As I say, I don't think there is any disagreement among the other five governments. I think they are all ready to go. I think we are all waiting for North Korea.
QUESTION: Did you talk about possible Japanese economic sanctions against North Korea?
U/S BOLTON: Oh, yes.
QUESTION: Could you elaborate a little bit?
U/S BOLTON: You know the United States has essentially complete prohibition of economic dealings with North Korea, has had some quite time. So these are sanctions that were imposed in variety of different contexts, essentially on a unilateral basis, so it's not for us in that circumstance to tell other governments "don't impose sanctions." It would be hard for us to say not to do that and we haven't done that. But I would say in the discussions that I've had this week with a variety of Japanese officials from different agencies that I am very impressed with the seriousness of their internal consideration of whether or not to implement the sanctions legislation that was passed by the Diet last year. And I don't think they're going to make the decision one way or the other lightly. I think, as I say, I am impressed with the seriousness and the depth of consideration that they are giving to that decision. But fundamentally, this is a Japanese decision. And it's for them to make. They've been in consultation with us. We certainly welcome that, but it is their decision and the United States will respect that decision whatever turns out to be.
QUESTION: There has been some talk that late next week at this 2+2 meeting in Washington that the Japanese and the Americans are going to make some broader statement about the role of U.S. forces here and the U.S.-Japan alliance, including perhaps broadening the role to the "arc of instability," including the Taiwan Straits all the way to North Africa. Can you elaborate a bit on that, and what exactly you might expect?
U/S BOLTON: Any statement on that would be made by the Foreign and Defense Ministers. I think I will forgo commenting on it until they do.
QUESTION: What are the general ideas?
U/S BOLTON: Let me just say, "Never step on your boss’ line." The general subject of increased bilateral consultation between Japan and the United States on a range of political-military issues is something that’s been growing and that we hope will continue. I mean certainly it’s reflected by the deployment of Japanese Self-Defense Forces in Iraq and in a variety of other contexts. This is something we’ve welcomed, as we did, for example, with Japan being a core group member of the Proliferation Security Initiative and their willingness to host the "Team Samurai" exercise in October. So I wouldn’t treat this as a unique circumstance. I think this is part of enhanced political-military dialog and is demonstrated by the idea of a 2 + 2 meeting that will be scheduled – and I don’t actually think it’s been precisely scheduled, but it will be fairly soon.
QUESTION: How does the U.S. view the fact that Japan is labeling the issue of the Taiwan Straits as a matter of security interest for Japan now? I mean, is that something that you welcome? And how do you view that?
U/S BOLTON: Well, I think the delineation of what Japan considers to be in its security interest is obviously for Japan to decide. But we have – because of the nature of U.S. involvement around the world – we certainly have a profound interest in stability across the Taiwan Straits. So having interest expressed by Japan or other nations in that stability is all to the good.
QUESTION: Let me do a little follow-up. Yesterday the Japanese reasserted their sovereignty over the Senkakus. The governor of Tokyo is trying to do something with another island to the south …
U/S BOLTON: I know. I met with him yesterday. I was briefed by him on that subject.
U/S BOLTON: “The rock.”
QUESTION: Yeah, the rock. How do you see this? Are Japan and China increasingly coming into conflict on their edges? I mean, how do you see this, since you were here two or three months ago for "Team Samurai" how do you see the mentality changing on this?
U/S BOLTON: Well, I think the subject of China’s increase in its military capabilities, and particularly the prospect of power projection into the Pacific is something that we’re looking at. It’s one of the reasons that we’re opposed to the lifting of the EU arms embargo without some compensating or appropriate mechanism being put into place to address these strategic issues, and I think Japan, in the course of its own internal domestic political discussions is moving in the direction of what a number of Japanese politicians and commentators have called the idea of a “normal nation” – that a normal nation should look after its own defense and security interests, and I don’t think that’s anything that we have any difficulty with, and I think as the Japanese make their own decisions on how they’re going to define those interests, that’s obviously something that we’re going to consult with. And it’s one reason why we have a particular interest in strategic stability in East Asia and why precipitous changes in the political-military circumstances that could affect that balance are something that we have an interest in and should be addressing.
I think this is a long-term proposition. I mean the specifics of the EU arms embargo are obviously pre-occupying us at the moment, but make no mistake about it: I think this is going to be a long-term question that will require our attention over the foreseeable future.
QUESTION: When you talk about China extending its military reach, could you be more specific as to which areas in Asia you feel would be potential flashpoints in the future.
U/S BOLTON: Well, I’m not – specifically in terms of flashpoints, I think, as I say, in this field you look at intentions and capabilities, and we see evidence, by China’s own statements, of its intention to increase its capabilities and that’s something that from our point of view has to be analyzed, and there is a broad relation with China on a whole range of other things. This is not the only aspect of it, but the aspect that I deal with involves that, so that’s why we’re looking at it.
QUESTION: So do you see greater activity in shipping routes? Or the Chinese expanding their blue water fleet and expanding into the Pacific – is that one of the concerns that you have?
U/S BOLTON: Well, certainly if you look at their purchases from Russia, in terms of aviation and naval power, much of what they purchased would be consistent with that, and given the capabilities that exist in a number of European governments and a number of European defense firms, if they were to make additional purchases in that regard, it could have an impact on Chinese capabilities. Otherwise, I don’t know why we’re talking about lifting the embargo. I mean, I presume there is a reason that the Chinese side is talking about it and the European side is talking about it, other than political symbolism. So that’s why we’re trying to address it.
QUESTION: Let’s go back to the idea of Japan becoming a more military nation. From the U.S. point of view, what could Japan being a global military nation …
U/S BOLTON: Being a “normal nation” – that’s the phrase they use, a “normal nation.”
QUESTION: … in terms of defending itself. From the U.S. point of view, what would you like to see Japan do to cooperate with the United States in security issues in the Pacific, if it did increase its military capabilities?
U/S BOLTON: Well, I think this is a subject, as with most internal political discussions in other democracies, that it’s not really something that we are trying to shape one way or another. It’s a question of the evolution of Japanese thinking on its own. And I can give you one specific example where for good and sufficient reason the Japanese have been quite interested in discussing and cooperating with us in the field of missile defense, having had a Taepo-dong fired over Japan into the Pacific Ocean. This is not hypothetical from the Japanese point of view. So of course, as we develop our own missile-defense capabilities, we are looking for other nations that are prepared to cooperate with us, and Japan has certainly been in the forefront of such cooperation. So I think this is a question of the evolution of Japan’s thinking, and we’re certainly prepared to accommodate it, but it’s not something that we’re pushing one way or another. There’s I think a natural progression in the internal political debate in Japan, and it’s a question for the Japanese, but it’s not something that we’re concerned about. It’s something that as they’re prepared to proceed, we’re prepared to engage with them on.
QUESTION: If I could just follow up a little bit on Jim’s question regarding the Senkakus and the other territorial disputes with China: You say that the United States is not trying to shape Japan’s position on this, but obviously there’s the bilateral defense agreement, so that if there was some potential conflict, it potentially draws the United States in. So what is essentially the United States’ position on how aggressively Japan should proceed on these territorial disputes?
U/S BOLTON: Well, I think Japan has made it clear they want to resolve all of the territorial disputes by diplomatic means, and that’s certainly something that we agree with. I don’t a U.S. position on it necessarily is going to help a resolution of it. I mean I think this is something Japan will work out with each of the countries – certainly it’s trying to work out with each of the countries where the territorial dispute exists. And it’s always a matter of sensitivity when you have these kinds of disputes, so I think our kind of getting into the middle of it is probably not the most productive way to proceed, but we’ve been in close touch with the Japanese on the subject. I’m sure we’ll be in the future.
QUESTION: Does our defense agreement oblige us to defend the Senkakus?
U/S BOLTON: Well, I think the question is – as we discuss what the mutual defense agreement actually covers – the terms of it have been written, historically, in a particular way, and they were written that way to avoid getting into a lot of hypothetical disputes, but I think the strength of the commitment is very real, and I think the Japanese understand that.
QUESTION: Are the Senkakus inside the Japanese umbrella?
U/S BOLTON: Well, again, the terms of the agreement are what the terms of the agreement are, and that’s what we support, and that’s what we don’t go beyond.
QUESTION: It’s been I guess two years now since North Korea pulled out of the NPT. What’s the status of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, as far as you can see?
U/S BOLTON: Well, there’s a lot we don’t know about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, and that bothers us. It doesn’t give us comfort that our knowledge is incomplete, and I think especially in terms of the uranium enrichment program, about which there’s much we don’t know but which is the sort of thing, depending on its breadth and extent, that could be a major source of weapons-grade uranium. That’s one reason why we want to try and get the Six-Party Talks moving again, because to whatever extent the North Koreans are proceeding with their program – and we believe that they are – the absence of progress in the Six-Party Talks means they’re making further progress towards an increased capability through both the plutonium and the uranium route to nuclear weapons.
QUESTION: And that’s good for them, isn’t it?
U/S BOLTON: That’s exactly right.
QUESTION: So why should they return for talks?
U/S BOLTON: That’s why we’ve said time is not on our side, but I think they understand that they are completely isolated, in their pursuit of nuclear weapons. They have no support for that capability – not from any of the participants in the Six-Party Talks and not from anybody else.
QUESTION: Do you know how many warheads they’ve got?
U/S BOLTON: Well, we have various estimates, and they’ve all been duly reported in the pages of major publications, but I’m not going to get into the specifics. The point is they’ve got a very active nuclear weapons program, and whatever their capabilities are, they are disturbing.
QUESTION: You mentioned that they’re isolated on this issue, but particularly in the South Korean’s case, and also with China’s, they’re not necessarily isolated economically, you know, in the sense that you do see trade growing between South Korea, China and North Korea. There’s the Kae-song project. Are you concerned that in fact North Korea is not isolated and that in fact some of the people who are participating in the talks are some of the ones that are cooperating with them economically?
U/S BOLTON: Well, there are a lot of issues involved. The Six-Party Talks are not intended to resolve all of them – they’re intended to resolve the nuclear question, and that’s really what our focus is. Our policy is clear: The only economic contact we have with North Korea is the provision of humanitarian assistance, and that’s obviously what we think is the appropriate relationship.
QUESTION: I don’t know if you saw in Kristof's column yesterday that it was sort of a scathing attack on the, not so much the containment policy, saying the only way to get these people out of their shell is to engage them a la Kae-song and South Korea. What’s your take on that approach?
U/S BOLTON: Well, I think the case of Libya demonstrates that that’s wrong. We had extensive sanctions against Libya for decades, and I think the effect of those sanctions was very telling, and I think it was a substantial factor in Khaddafi’s conclusion that it was not in Libya’s interest to continue pursuing weapons of mass destruction – indeed, Libya would be safer not pursuing those weapons than in continuing to go after them. And now, by having renounced the pursuit of WMD and ballistic missile capabilities – once we get other issues with Libya resolved – if we get those other issues resolved, then the way is open for very substantial American trade and investment, so I think that is the Libyan, that is why we cite the Libyan model, because I think it shows that applying pressure in a consistent fashion and making it unambiguously clear we don’t accept the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction can have the desired outcome, and does not involve regime change.
QUESTION: Do the Chinese show any real interest in putting pressure? Just a quick example: The Chinese got upset that Chinese citizens were stealing money and going across the border and gambling. So they told the North Koreans to shut down the casinos. North Korea didn’t, and apparently China just turned off the power and the water. And so the casino involved is now closed. We know they have that power. We haven’t seen them use it except for that one time. They shut off some oil about two years ago.
U/S BOLTON: “Cleaning the pipeline”
QUESTION: Yeah, cleaning the pipeline. Do they show interest in flexing their muscles in North Korea?
U/S BOLTON: Well, I don’t think there is any doubt that of the countries involved in the Six-Party Talks, the one that has the overwhelming influence with North Korea is China. Our estimates are that North Korea receives 80 to 90 percent of its energy supply from China, and that’s a very persuasive piece of information. China says that its principal interest over the next several years is that there be peace and stability in East Asia so it can pursue economic development, and that the existence of a nuclear weapons program in North Korea is inconsistent with that. I buy that analysis. I think that is legitimately what the Chinese believe, so if that’s their analysis, and they want the North Korean nuclear weapons program stopped, I think they can carry that logic through to its conclusion. And we’ve certainly made that point to them.
QUESTION: But are they going to do it? I mean they’re sending back North Korean refugees to North Korea. They’re engaging in border trade. Also supporting the …
U/S BOLTON: I think there’s been a longstanding Chinese interest in supplying food and other aid into North Korea to keep the North Koreans in North Korea. And so from that perspective, I understand why they’re doing that. I mean I saw a report a fairly short time ago that the World Food Program had concluded that North Korea had cut its rice ration again, which hardly speaks about economic growth or progress inside North Korea. So we certainly talk about these issues with the Chinese, and I think they understand the logic.
QUESTION: How long will we give North Korea?
U/S BOLTON: You just want to get me in trouble today.
QUESTION: I mean, if you say time is running out – time is not on their side.
U/S BOLTON: Well, about a year ago, somebody asked Dr. Rice how much longer we were going to engage in the Six-Party Talks, and about a year ago she said as long as they’re productive. And I though that was a good answer then, and I think it’s a good answer now.
QUESTION: Are they productive?
U/S BOLTON: I’ll let her answer that question. To be productive, you have to have talks, and that’s why we’re waiting for the fourth round, and why I think the onus really is on North Korea now to come back to the table.
QUESTION: So if in six months’ time there’s no further talks, are you just going to wait until they decide to come back?
U/S BOLTON: I don’t … I really … I mean honestly there is no time deadline here. I just point out that the IAEA board of governors referred the North Korean situation to the Security Council. It’s on the Council’s agenda. No action has been taken there because we’ve been engaged in the Six-Party Talks, but just in the back of everybody’s mind, I think the Security Council is there, you know, pursuant to the U.N. Charter.
QUESTION: Going back to the question of North Korea’s current nuclear capability: Without knowing any of the inside information, one might speculate along these lines, that if the U.S. really believed that a regime like North Korea had a number of nuclear warheads, which were capable of striking U.S. troops in South Korea and Japan, they wouldn’t just stand by and let this diplomatic fiasco linger on indefinitely. Apart from those various estimates published in major newspapers, which you mentioned, what reason is there for thinking that North Korea has any significant nuclear weapons capability?
U/S BOLTON: Well, I think there is a lot of evidence that we’ve seen, both in terms of the reprocessing of plutonium, but also what we know about the production-scope procurement efforts that they’ve made, with respect to uranium enrichment. And I think it would be imprudent of the United States not to go on the basis of the information that it had, and rather than wait for absolutely conclusive proof, you have to--recognizing the uncertainties of intelligence, which we are all very well aware of--what we’ve seen and indeed what the North Koreans themselves have said, is all consistent with a very extensive nuclear weapons program – which is not to say – they also have very extensive chemical and biological weapons programs, and the chemical warfare capability that they have with thousands and thousands of artillery tubes along the demilitarized zone, is also something that gravely concerns us. So I mean there is a lot to worry about in the North Korean arsenal, not just the nuclear weapons.
QUESTION: With Libya, we always talk about the "red line." Did they cross the "red line" with Libya? Are they selling, trading with other countries that you know off?
U/S BOLTON: I just can't get into the specifics of that, but what I would say is one of the reasons that we've been so concerned about North Korea is that it is not just a threat here in the North East Asia region, although it certainly is. Given North Korea's propensity to proliferate WMD and delivery systems, there's little doubt that if they had weapons or technology or components of a nuclear weapons program that they would be prepared to sell those to a willing buyer. Because we know that much of the revenue from the WMD program and sale, for example, of ballistic missiles into the Middle East, the proceeds from those sales are used to finance the nuclear weapons program in for regime support. So, that - plus illegal drug sales, gambling and other activities here in Japan - all of that goes to the regime. It certainly doesn't go to the people of North Korea. And, that's what makes, because of their record of proliferation behavior, its what makes us concerned that North Korea is a global proliferation threat as well as a threat here in the region.
QUESTION: Might they sell weapons to…I mean there have been reports that, for example, Pakistani military aircraft landing in North Korea, they sold missile parts to Yemen; I mean, why are you concerned about it, is it sales to other nations, or is it sales to groups?
U/S BOLTON: Well, I think certainly you'd have to be concerned about the potential for sale to terrorist groups. I think North Korea would sell to anybody with hard currency. And it's bad enough that they would sell ballistic missile technology, or chemical or biological weapons capabilities--the nuclear capabilities, obviously, the most dangerous of all. And to the extent they've got it and there's a buyer out there that they, that would be in contact with them - again, there record demonstrates they have no hesitation in trying to make some money off of them.
QUESTION: Then you would say that's a bigger threat, than the threat that they might be possessing the weapons?
U/S BOLTON: I wouldn't say it’s a bigger threat, I would say it's part of the reason why we think its more than a threat simply in the North East Asia region; that the capability that they have constitutes a global problem.
MODERATOR: We still have a few minutes left.
QUESTION: I'd like to go back to the South-North Korean relationship, and what you think South Korea's role is in influencing North Korea, perhaps, and how your relationship with South Korea is at the moment.
U/S BOLTON: Well, South Korea's a democracy. And, you know, you get democratically elected governments and you have to deal with them just as we deal with democratically elected governments in Europe. And we've had very close collaboration with the South Korean government through a number of different Administrations. We work very hard to try and align our policies and through the so-called TCOG mechanism and through bilateral consultations. President Bush has spoken to President No Mu Hun on a number of occasions and, you know, although its fun to write about the disagreements, the underlying areas of agreement, I think, are more important. Our concern to make the six-party talks successful and to make sure that we end up with the elimination of the North Korean nuclear weapons program. That's where we stand on it now and that's why all of us are waiting for the North Koreans to come back to the table. I mean, I think that's the real question here. When are they going to come back for a fourth round of talks?
QUESTION: But, do you think, for instance, the Kaesong project and other investments that South Koreans are making in North Korea are counter-productive in terms of isolating North Korea?
U/S BOLTON: Well, the perspective that the United States has followed is that we don't think that its useful for us to engage in economic transactions with North Korea and there's no prospect that policy's going to change. The question of what the South Koreans have been doing has been something that's been unfolding for the last ten years and that's the nature of decision-making in South Korea which is now, hopefully permanently, democratic. So, you know, those are circumstances we deal with.
MODERATOR: Let's, I think, make this the last one. I’ll give you two last ones.
QUESTION: You know, North Korean human rights act calls for the State Department to name a Human Rights Ambassador, calls for doubling of VOA and RFA Korean language broadcasting--what's going on to get that off the paper and into action, to get radios into the North, to do what we did with Eastern Europe, to break, you know, the ideological mindset?
U/S BOLTON: Well, I know that activity is proceeding, but I'm not, it's not, I hate to sound like a bureaucrat, but that doesn't fall under me so I'm probably not the best person to answer that. But, I think there's certainly an intention to name the representative in the very near future. I know they are working on that.
QUESTION: I was just curious, then. There's been reports a few months ago about them taking down pictures of Kim Jong Il in schools, or whatever…
U/S BOLTON: I have no idea what that means.
QUESTION: Yeah, I'm just kind of wondering why you think, you know…
U/S BOLTON: I've heard a lot of different theories and I just honestly don't know what it means.
QUESTION: Did you watch the soccer game last night? (laughter)
U/S BOLTON: No, I did not…I think the best team won. (laughter)
MODERATOR: Okay, Folks, thank you all very much. The Under Secretary has to go catch a plane. Thanks a lot. Appreciate your being here.