North Korea is more dangerous now due to the progress it has made in its nuclear capabilities in recent years, former national security adviser John Bolton told CNBC on Wednesday.
In a military parade on Saturday, North Korea showed off its new weapons including a huge intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could potentially be more lethal, due to more warheads or a larger payload, according to Reuters. citing military analysts.
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“The rogue states need time to perfect their nuclear capabilities, their ballistic missile capabilities. This is what Kim Jong Un was doing,” he said, referring to the North Korean leader.
A man watching a TV show at Seoul Railway Station in South Korea, which showed a military parade in North Korea to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the ruling party on 10 October 2020
Chung Sung-Jun | Getty Images
Since becoming president, Trump has held two nuclear summits with Kim in Singapore and Vietnam, but neither has produced much results. Trump has been trying to push Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons and has dangled the prospect of an economic boost to the country, which has struggled under the weight of the crippling UN and US international sanctions.
The sanctions aim to cut funding for North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. Experts previously said Kim wants to see sanctions loosened without losing the strategic advantages of his weapons of mass destruction.
“So, I think it’s more dangerous now because of the progress North Korea has made,” Bolton said.
He added it in the event that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wins the November elections, dealing with North Korea “will be a tough game for the Biden administration.”
Public opinion stiffens against China
Bolton also weighed on growing tensions between China and Taiwan and the US perception of Beijing.
“China is a much bigger issue, a more existential issue for the United States,” Bolton said.
Taipei has built closer ties with Washington and attracted many protests from Beijing. China regards Taiwan as part of its territory which will one day have to be reunited with the mainland and therefore should not have the right to engage in international diplomacy. Although the United States has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, it is the island’s most powerful international supporter and its largest arms supplier.
“I think in Taiwan, what China really wants is for Taiwan to fall into its womb like a ripe fruit,” Bolton said. “They don’t want war, they don’t want the island to be devastated. But on the other hand, they definitely want it back. The Taiwanese don’t want to go back.”
If Biden wins the election, it will be a tough call for his administration, according to Bolton. Under the Trump administration, the relationship between the United States and China has deteriorated significantly – first due to a trade war, then a battle for technological domination. Additionally, Trump has repeatedly blamed China for the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far killed at least 215,000 people in the United States.
“Public opinion in the United States is hardening against China,” Bolton said, adding that Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus has created a negative perception of the world’s second largest economy in the United States and other countries.
While former President Barack Obama’s administration has been “very accommodating” to China, there are no guarantees that Biden, if he wins the election, would follow suit due to the change in public opinion, Bolton said.
“I wouldn’t just count on getting back to the way it was when Obama left office,” he added.