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US Stumbling into War with Iran

July 18, 2017 Leave a comment

Andrei AKULOV

There are signs that a US military operation against Iran is imminent. The administration is pushing Congress for the authority to build new «temporary» facilities in Iraq and Syria. Its policy statement says the armed forces are hamstrung by legal restrictions on the ability to expand military infrastructure in Syria and Iraq. The Trump administration wants the existing authorities that only cover the «repair and renovation» of facilities extended to also encompass «temporary intermediate staging facilities, ammunition supply points, and assembly areas that have adequate force protection».

According to a 2016 Defense Department of Defense (DoD) report, the Pentagon wastes money on maintaining 22 percent excess infrastructure unnecessary infrastructure. The House and Senate Committee versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) deny the military the right to spend money on a new round of Base Realignment and Closures (BRAC), making it pay for the real estate it does not need. Now new military bases in the Middle East may be added to the financial burden.

The added flexibility is supposed to boost the capabilities against the Islamic State (IS) but it does not sound credible. After all, the group is already retreating everywhere and the process is unstoppable. But boosting military infrastructure is the right thing to do if the enemy is a strong military power such as Iran. President Trump appears to have decidedly hardline leanings on that country.

After all, the first Donald Trump’s foreign trips to Saudi Arabia and Israel were specifically targeted at Iran. In Riyadh, the president called for unity against Tehran, singling it out for its support of terrorism. He even hinted at the need for regime change. The US Treasury Department has applied additional sanctions on Iran’s missile program while the administration is mulling of declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization. The Congress is considering a bill to impose a set of sanctions on Tehran. The CIA has made moves toward more aggressive operations.

Visiting Saudi Arabia in April, US Defense Secretary James Mattis flatly stated: «Everywhere you look, if there’s trouble in the region, you find Iran». The Washington Post reports that active or retired military officials hold at least 10 of the 25 senior policy and leadership spots on Trump’s National Security Council — five times more than under the previous administration. Colin Kahl, a former Pentagon and White House official, believes that being limited in their worldview those officials could overestimate their ability to control events and end up provoking more conflict.

President Trump granted US commanders the authority to order attacks in countries with American military presence on January 29 – shortly after taking office. The United States is already involved in places such as Syria and the Persian Gulf where confrontation with Iran is looming. It greatly increases the risk of sparking a conflict.

The US military has come a number of times recently into direct conflict with the Iran-supported Shiite militias and pro-Iranian Hezbollah. In the southeastern Syrian desert pro-US and pro-Iranian forces are facing off with one another. America’s military has bolstered its position in the area by deploying HIMARS mobile multiple launch rocket systems. The United States and Iran pursue different agendas in Syria to make them increasingly on a collision course. The US-supported coalition and pro-Iranian forces are maneuvering to control as much territory as possible in the vacuum created by the retreat of IS militants.

As the IS – the common enemy – gets weaker, the evolving battlefield in Syria and Iraq is drawing the United States and Iran towards a collision. The British Guardian cites Ilan Goldenberg, a former state and defense official, who said that «the tolerance that Shia Iranian-supported groups and American-supported groups have shown for each other» may disappear as the IS disappears off the map. He believes that with the IS gone «You can see it all going haywire pretty quickly».

More and more sanctions, military exercises, huge arms deals with the countries hostile to Iran, and taking direct action against Iran’s militant proxies could escalate tensions and provoke a flare up. It would easily spill over into Iraq, where roughly 6,000 U.S. troops operate in close proximity to tens of thousands of Shia militia fighters aligned with Iran. The Persian Gulf is the place where the US and Iranian navies operate in close proximity. The incidents have already taken place. That’s where a spark can start a big fire.

President Trump’s standing with the American people has deteriorated since the spring, buffeted by perceptions of a decline in US leadership abroad, a stalled presidential agenda at home and an unpopular Republican health-care bill, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News pollAccording to The Washington Post, Approaching six months in office, Trump’s overall approval rating has dropped to 36 percent from 42 percent in April. His disapproval rating has risen five points to 58 percent. Overall, 48 percent say they «disapprove strongly» of Trump’s performance in office, a level never reached by former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and reached only in the second term of George W. Bush in Post-ABC polling.

With the administration hemmed in by investigations into its alleged Russia links and the failure to advance his policy, a short victorious war would be just the thing to make the president win flag-rally popular support with approval rating going up again. Besides, a war against Iran may be a warning to North Korea telling it unambiguously – you’re next! America is gradually sliding into another war with a distant country that poses no immediate threat to it. So far, it has won wars but failed to win peace. Wading into the Middle East mess, the US will become weaker not stronger. No intervention was a success but this lesson appears to be never learnt.

Iran blames high US output for falling oil prices

June 26, 2017 Leave a comment

Source: Press TV

Iran has blamed a recent rise in US oil production for the plunge in global prices of crude oil. 

Iran’s Petroleum Minister Bijan Zanganeh told reporters on Wednesday that the US had increased its oil production by 900,000 barrels per day. This, he said, was way beyond what the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) had estimated.

Zanganeh said he was already discussing the role of high US oil production in the decline of prices. However, he said it would be difficult to prepare the member states for any collective action on such issues.

The Iranian minister further spoke highly of OPEC’s performance in arriving at a consensus to cut output and help prop up prices.

He said the output cut plan was just to show its effects, adding that it was still too soon to judge its effectiveness.

OPEC in a meeting in May agreed to extend until March 2018 an oil output cut deal that was sealed last year to help shore up prices.

The cuts would lower the collective production of producers by 1.8 million barrels per day (mb/d).

A dozen non-members led by top oil producer Russia, which reduced output in tandem with OPEC, would also join the scheme.

OPEC members Nigeria and Libya would still be excluded from cuts as their output remained curbed by unrest.

Iran would also be allowed to keep its oil production by 3.8 mb/d over the next nine months.  The country has been exempted from the existing six-month oil output cut deal.

Iran Readies Strike To ‘Depose’ Trump As U.S. Forces Targeted

June 24, 2017 Leave a comment

In the latest act of Iranian aggression against the U.S. and her allies, an Islamic Republic leader is threatening to “depose” President Donald Trump.

Mostafa Tajzadeh is a senior Iranian politician and close collaborator with President Hassan Rouhani. This week, he claimed that the Trump administration is not strong enough to confront Iran and said that an “unwise” action on the part of the administration would result in President Trump being “deposed.”

According to the translations, Tajzadah’s rhetoric comes off the heels of escalating tensions in the area. Over the weekend, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered missile strikes on U.S. backed forces in Syria. The six surface to surface missiles launched Sunday were the first attack of its kind from the Islamic Republic in years. Revolutionary Guards said that the strikes were designed to send a message to the “terrorists” who carried out attacks in Tehran earlier in the month, as well as warn the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia about further aggression.

Iran blames Saudi Arabia for the six terrorists who recently mounted the simultaneous gun and suicide bomb attacks on Iran’s Parliament building and the mausoleum of Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic.

The situation in the area is wrought with complexities. Although it has been shifting around, the U.S. has been technically fighting a war on terror since the 9/11 attacks. President Trump specifically defined America’s enemies soon after he took office.

His January 28 Memorandum helped simplify military plans by designating the opposition as the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria…or ISIS, when referring to this threat.” Iran is supporting Syria, and that’s where the current tension lies. However, it’s hard to know the difference between the good guys and bad guys in the region. There have been multiple attacks on U.S. forces by insiders recently.

Up until now, Iran has remained largely in the background of the conflict. Yet, in the wake of growing U.S. strikes on Syrian forces in the country, Iranian military leaders have been increasing their maneuvers and their inflammatory rhetoric.

Iran has been instigating more attacks on Syrian forces, who are backed by the U.S. The heightened aggression has led to the belief that America will be drawn into a proxy war with Iran. Conflict of that kind could ignite the region because Iran is supported by Russia and China.

Believing the media hype that the Trump administration is in peril, Tajzadeh threw his hat into the ring advocating Trump’s removal from office. He obviously has no idea who he’s dealing with.

“Trump’s presidency is so fragile that if he does anything unwise against Iran, if we react smartly, instead of the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is Trump who will be deposed,” Tajzadeh’s translated tweet said.

The top military aid to Ali Khamenei, Yahya Rahim Safavi, also said yesterday that the heightened aggression from Iran is a “clear message” for “American enemies… that if they attack Iran” they can expect to be answered. Safavi also bragged about Iran’s military strength on the state controlled press and boasted of Iran’s ability “to decide and respond” to attacks.

However, administration officials and former advisers are saying that Trump is totally different from Obama. He made a regular habit of telling journalists his military plans. In fact, his disastrous announcements of withdrawal dates for U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan led directly to the creation of the Islamic State.

Trump’s not stupid and he won’t make that mistake. (If it was indeed a mistake on Obama’s part to announce military plans to U.S. enemies, and not a calculated decision.)

Strategy officials close to Trump have explained that his administration is following the events very closely. Their plans are solid, even if they haven’t broadcasted them to world viewers. Considering American military strength, the boasts from Iran wouldn’t seriously jeopardize Trump anyway.

Although escalating the conflict would result in more lives lost, this is already a war against Islamic extremists who murder Christians and gas their own people. However, that’s where America has been since 9/11 and the countries duty is clear.

Iran’s Parliament speaker vows ‘serious’ response to US Senate bill

June 12, 2017 Leave a comment

Iran's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani

Iran’s parliament speaker says the legislature is to deliver a “serious” and “clear” response to a push at the US Senate to impose new sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Ali Larijani made the remarks on Sunday as he ordered Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee to “immediately” draw up a counter-plan and submit it to the legislature.

The US Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to advance a bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran, the same day at least 17 people were killed in terrorist attacks in Tehran.

A senior Senate aide said the Iran sanctions measure could come up for a vote as soon as next week. The legislation would impose new sanctions on Iran over its defense missile program, support for resistance movements and claims of human rights violations against the country.

To become law, the measure would have to pass the Republican-led House of Representatives and be signed by President Donald Trump. So far, Washington has slapped two rounds of sanctions on Iran under the new US administration in breach of a nuclear accord.

Larijani said Iran’s countermeasure should incorporate “resistance on the right path of the Revolution and increased convergence” in the face of the enemies’ efforts to “blunt Iran’s instruments of dignity.”

“The enemy’s strategy is to slow down the means of Iran’s dignity, and preoccupy its authorities with extraneous issues,” he said.

At least 17 people were killed and 52 others injured in Tehran on Wednesday when gunmen mounted almost simultaneous assaults on Iran’s Parliament and the Mausoleum of the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini. The Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

“We should accept that a line comprising terrorists and the countries backing them, which are being led by the United States and Saudi Arabia, has formed against our people,” Larijani said.

He also expressed his thanks to world officials and parliaments for extending messages of commiseration to the Iranian people and government over the terrorist attacks in Tehran.

Those messages, he said, have dismayed Riyadh, which only last month gathered many of its allies, including the United States, in an anti-Iran conference featuring Trump as the keynote speaker.

Larijani said Iranian lawmakers’ decision to go ahead with their session as the terrorist attack unfolded in a nearby building and their participation at a funeral for victims of the attacks showed the country’s determination to fight terrorists to the last.

The U.S. Is on Collision Course with Iran (and Russia), but Nobody’s Talking About It

Iran

(AntiMedia) While celebrities are vehemently criticizing Donald Trump’s recent lack of manners on his first foreign policy trip as president, the mainstream media and our beloved celebrities appear to be completely oblivious of the warpath the Trump administration is taking America down. This time, that warpath is set against another Russian ally: Iran.

As Foreign Policy aptly asked last week, “Are the U.S. and Iran on a collision course in Syria?” The answer to this question appears to be far worse than the media is letting on.

As Anti-Media has previously explained, Iranian-aligned troops who were operating under the banner of the Syrian Arab Army have been advancing toward a U.S. training base in Syria. These troops have subsequently been struck by the U.S.-led coalition. The proposed aim of these Syrian-Iranian-aligned troops is to open up the al-Tanf border crossing to be positioned under the control of the Syrian government in order to open up direct routes to Iraq and Iran (for supplies, reinforcements and the like.) Not to mention, as one U.S. defense official told Foreign Policy, the Syrian government maintains a military outpost in Deir Ezzor, another strategic area where Syrian forces are battling one of the last major remnants of ISIS.

This outpost is isolated, making complete control of the area is almost meaningless without the opening of the al-Tanf region, as Foreign Policy explains:

“The base has long been cut off from other areas of regime control and can only be resupplied by airdrops, but it was recently reinforced by about 1,000 Syrian soldiers, giving the regime in Damascus some fighting power in the area.

The reclaiming of this territory by the Syrian army and its associated forces is a deal-breaker for Washington. Last Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters that if the Iranian-backed militia continues its advances, the coalition will continue to defend itself, as reported by Foreign Policy. Foreign Policy also reported that the U.S.-led coalition is tracking their movements carefully in their advance towards Deir Ezzor.

If the U.S.-led coalition is, indeed, tracking these troops movements towards Deir Ezzor, the U.S. should be well aware of the photographs produced by regional outlet al-Masdar, which show that the Russian air force is currently deploying air power to cover these advances. The Telegraph, too, confirmed that Russian jets provide air cover for these Iranian-backed militias.

Donald Trump’s childish instinctual decision to push another official out of his way to get to the front of a photo-op is surely worthy of our criticism, yet one has to wonder why this behavior outrages celebrities and commentators who are hardly bothered by the thousands of Iraqis and Syrians who are dying needlessly at the behest of the same man’s foreign policy strategy.

And what should we make of the thousands more who will be unnecessarily pummeled into rubble by Donald Trump’s decision to put America on a direct warpath with Iran and Russia?

The media wants you to believe Donald Trump is compromised by Russia when in actuality, his administration is closer to transforming the Cold War 2.0 into World War 3 than any other administration before him. Meanwhile, in tandem with the mass media, Trump’s administration has been sowing the seeds for a new conflict with Iran, which may involve over 55 countries that have just signed a military pact with the express intention of confronting Iran in Iraq and Syria.

Whatever one’s thoughts on Iran, Russia, and Syria, any human rights organization should be able to vouch for the fact that the United States’ military strategy cannot be a realistic solution to the problems currently engulfing the Middle East region. It will only bring more death and destruction and ignite a ticking time-bomb in the process. And that is something we all need to be talking.

Russia, Iran, Turkey Impose “No-Fly Zone” Against U.S. Over Parts of Syria

(ZHERussia said it’s ready to send peacekeepers to Syria after Turkey and Iran agreed on Thursday to Russia’s proposal for “de-escalation zones” in Syria. The move, welcomed by the United Nations, has been met with skepticism from the United States as the so-called safe-zones will closed for warplanes of the United States and those of the U.S.-led coalition.

As Bloomberg reports, the three countries signed a memorandum on the creation of so-called de-escalation areas on Thursday after two days of talks in Kazakhstan that also included representatives of the Syrian government and rebel groups.

We’re revolutionizing the news industry, but we need your help! Click here to get started.

Opposition leaders distanced themselves from the plan, saying they can’t accept Iran as a guarantor of the truce and that they want “clear and tangible” guarantees the deal will be enforced.

The U.S. also expressed doubts, as State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday that the U.S. has “concerns” about the accord, “including the involvement of Iran as a so-called “guarantor,”’ and said Russia should do more to stop violence.

The four safe zones to be established in Syria will be closed for flights by US-led coalition warplanes, said the Russian envoy to the Astana peace talks, where the zones were agreed upon.

“Russia is ready to send its observers” to help enforce the safe zones, President Vladimir Putin’s envoy to Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, told reporters in the Kazakh capital. “We believe the Syrian crisis can only be resolved through political methods.”

“As for [the coalition] actions in the de-escalation zones, starting from now those zones are closed for their flights,” Aleksandr Levrentyev told journalists in the Kazakh capital.

The Russian Ministry of Defense notes that the deal on safe zones in Syria will come into effect 21:00 GMT on May 5.

We wonder how long Washington will stand for what effectively amounts to a “no-fly zone” against U.S. war planes over parts of Syria.

John Bolton: If North Korea Gets Nuclear Missiles, ‘Iran Could Have That Capability the Next Day by Writing a Check’

April 30, 2017 Leave a comment

North Korea

On Friday’s Breitbart News Daily, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton joined SiriusXM host Alex Marlow for a look at President Trump’s first hundred days from a foreign policy and national security perspective.

Bolton said Trump’s record has been “mixed, depending on what area of the world, what particular crisis you look at, and really what point during the hundred days that you take.”

“I think in many respects the campaign rhetoric – which was very, very tough on things like the Iran nuclear deal and the North Korean nuclear threat, much of which continued into the first hundred days – is very much at risk of being subverted by the bureaucracy that the administration has not yet tamed,” he cautioned.

“There’s a significant risk that both because of some of the appointees that the president has named, and the appointees he hasn’t named – the people in the lower ranks who are the president’s eyes and ears and implementers out in the bureaucracy, particularly at the State Department, which is expert at capturing political appointees, especially from Republican administrations. If the president’s not careful, he will see his foreign policy – despite what I think his own views are – captured by the same bureaucracy that for eight years implemented the Obama foreign policy,” he elaborated.

“That’s the danger that I see. I don’t think the president has moved on some of these key national security issues as far as the press would like you to believe, or as far as the bureaucracy would like you to believe. It remains to be seen how many people in the administration can remember what they said during the campaign on some of these issues,  particularly terrorism and nuclear proliferation, as the bureaucracy nibbles away at them,” said Bolton.

“I think the president needs to be more of a disciplinarian with his subordinates and their bureaucracy,” he advised.

“I think that may be contrary to his natural instincts. I think he is an open, optimistic kind of man, and I think in the Trump Organization it was small enough that that kind of approach worked. But in the sprawling federal government, where different departments and agencies have their own cultures and their own agendas, especially in national security where they’re not friendly to Republican administrations, he needs to be tougher out there. I’m worried about what we’re going to do on Iran. I’m worried about what we’re going to do on North Korea,” Bolton said.

He warned there is “a whole range of issues where there is a real risk of creeping back to the Obama administration policy – as the poem goes, ‘not with a bang but with a whimper.’”

“Now, in other areas, I think he’s pretty much holding the line, which is why I say overall I think the performance in the first hundred days is mixed,” Bolton concluded.

Focusing on the Iran nuclear deal, Bolton recalled the State Department’s letter to Congress last week which “certified that Iran was in compliance with the Iran nuclear deal.”

“That is simply not true, in terms of their refusal to let the International Atomic Energy Agency visit key military sites, their excessive production of heavy water, their excessive enrichment of uranium, their gross disregard of the Security Council resolution and the part of the agreement dealing with ballistic missiles,” he asserted. “And those are just some of the things we know publicly. These are plain violations of the agreement. And that doesn’t count the provisions of the agreement that are so ambiguous, so poorly drafted, so open to interpretations favorable to Iran that lawyers could end up debating them for decades into the future.”

“What’s even worse is, if you read the congressional statute carefully, the reporting obligation does not require the president to make a binary decision – yes Iran is in compliance, or no Iran is not in compliance. By the statute’s own terms, it allows the president to say, ‘I am not able to certify that Iran is in compliance,’ which he would have been perfectly legitimate within his rights to do, especially given the newness of the administration,” he noted.

“Now, where did that certification come from? It came from the State Department bureaucracy. It came from the same people who negotiated the deal that was finally agreed to in the summer of 2015, and who have been protecting it, nurturing it, sheltering it for a year and a half since then. This may sound like a small point, but I’ll tell you, the proponents of the deal have taken that certification in just one week and said, ‘See, even the Trump administration says that the good old ayatollahs in Iran are complying with the deal,’” Bolton said.

“The negative implication of that, as the Trump administration then goes on to say Iran’s behavior in most material respects, as the president himself said, violates the spirit of the deal. Well, it goes beyond that. It violates the letter of the deal as well,” he contended.

“I’ve heard different stories, frankly, about whether the White House cleared that document or not, or whether – as is often the case with the bureaucracy – they come running in and say, ‘This is due on Capitol Hill at 5 P.M.! We’ve got to send it! We’ve got to send it, or we’ll be in default, we’ll be delinquent, we’ll be subject to criticism!’ So people say well, all right, I guess we’ve got to send it, and they don’t have time to think through the implications,” he said.

“This is to me a kind of textbook example, in the case of Iran, how a very strong and pro-American foreign policy just gets whittled away. It may seem like water eroding rock. It doesn’t happen in dramatic moments. But I’m just telling you, this is the way bureaucracy works, and it works to undercut especially conservative and Republican presidents,” Bolton lamented.

Breitbart News National Security Editor Frances Martel joined the conversation to ask Bolton about the deep relationship between the nuclear issues in Iran and North Korea, which are generally treated as entirely separate matters in media coverage.

“The media don’t get the connection, and that in part is because the national security bureaucracy doesn’t get, or doesn’t want to talk about, the connection,” Bolton replied, portraying it as “a classic bureaucratic example of what they call silos.”

“You’ve got the people dealing with Iran there in one silo, you’ve got the people dealing with North Korea in another silo. They might as well be on different planets,” he explained.

“But the fact is, again, from publicly available information going back 30 years, we know that the North Koreans and the Iranians have been in close cooperation on the development of ballistic missiles for that entire period. North Korea sold Iran the first SCUD missiles that were the basis for the Iranian missile program. They’ve cooperated in multiple ways since then. It makes perfectly good sense for that to happen. They’re both using the same Soviet-era SCUD missile technology for their missile programs, so they’ve got a common scientific and engineering base. Their objectives for the missile programs are exactly the same. It’s to deliver nuclear weapons, not launch communications or weather satellites. On that score, it’s just absolutely clear,” Bolton said.

“It is less clear in terms of publicly available evidence on the nuclear side, but I think there is substantial reason to believe there’s close cooperation there as well,” he continued. “The reactor that Israel destroyed in Syria in September of 2007 was being built by North Koreans. It was a clone of the North Korean Yongbyon reactor. Most people don’t think Syria had the financial wherewithal to pay for building that kind of reactor, and the North Koreans don’t do anything for free, so where did the money come from? I think it probably came from Iran.”

“I think there are a lot of other connections that have been noted, the Iranian scientists in North Korea and vice versa. Forget the Iran nuclear deal for a minute – it’s entirely foreseeable that the day North Korea gets the capability to drop a nuclear warhead on the United States via ballistic missile, Iran could have that capability the next day by writing a check in the right amount of money, so this relationship is extremely important,” he warned.

“On North Korea itself, the administration started off again with a very tough line on this – and yet yesterday, in an interview with Fox News, Secretary Tillerson said he’d be willing to have bilateral discussions with North Korea. This is after saying that the Obama ‘strategic patience’ doctrine was being rejected, after saying correctly we’ve negotiated with North Korea for 25 years and it hasn’t produced anything. Now we’re back to negotiating with North Korea and pressuring China to pressure North Korea. This is like Year 26 of the same failed policy,” Bolton complained.

“Now, I don’t want to overstate that, the secretary might have misstated what he implied by that, and certainly China has done a few things in the past couple of weeks that look encouraging. But I’ve been around that track before. When the heat gets too great, the Chinese pat the North Koreans on the fanny and say, ‘bad boys!’ They take some steps that appear to put pressure on North Korea, and then they hope that Americans with our famously short attention spans turn away, and the heat goes off, and then they quietly go back to business as before the particular crisis,” he said.

Bolton urged policymakers to remember that North Korea sees nuclear weapons as a tool for implementing a dangerous long-term policy agenda, which they would not abandon even if their nuclear aspirations were decisively thwarted.

“I think the same is true for the ayatollahs in Iran,” he added. “So when you say to Kim Jong-un and his generals, ‘Give up your nuclear weapons,’ what they hear is ‘give up up your regime, and maybe give up your lives, while we’re on the subject.’ They’re not going to do it.”

“We have tried diplomacy, persuasion. We have tried sanctions, coercion, in differing measures, different combinations, for 26 years. It just hasn’t worked,” he said.

“That’s why I think the only long-term solution is reunifying the two Koreas,” Bolton offered. “I think we could explain to China why that’s in their best interest. The Chinese say they don’t want North Korea to have a nuclear weapon because it would be destabilizing in East Asia. That’s code for saying they’re afraid Japan is going to get nuclear weapons. But they have not taken the steps necessary in the past to pressure North Korea to give up the weapons because they understand just how frail that regime really is, and they’re worried it will collapse in an uncontrolled fashion that will cause them all kinds of problems.”

“I think there’s a deal here. I think it’s complicated and difficult to negotiate. I wish we had started 15 years ago. But we’re in a race now, because the factor that’s changed from the last 25 years to today is, North Korea this time is really very close to having the capability to miniaturize a nuclear weapon, put it under the nose cone of an ICBM, and launch the ICBM towards the United States. That’s what’s really driving people,” Bolton observed.

“Obama just watched it all happen for eight years. He’s dumped this problem on the Trump administration. But it’s also why we need a policy change. If you try in Year 26 to keep doing what you’ve done and failed to accomplish your objective, for the last 25 years – who has any reason to believe that in Year 26 you’re going to get a different result?” he asked.

Marlow asked what South Koreans thought of his unification idea.

“Many of them are not wild about it, because they look at the example of German reunification, they saw it was very costly to the West Germans,” Bolton conceded. “I think there are real differences between the two circumstances. I think in fact for South Korea this is a huge economic opportunity, to be perfectly crass about it. You’ve got a wage base in North Korea of roughly zero, so that by putting manufacturing and other facilities up there, eventually the wages in North Korea will be the same as the wages in South Korea, but not in the immediate future.”

“It is something that’s going to come anyway,” he predicted. “The division of the Korean peninsula is unnatural, just as the division of Germany was. It was always intended to be temporary until the Cold War intervened. There will be reunification one day. The issue remains, will it be accomplished in a restrained and careful fashion that works out in our interests, and maybe in the interests of China as well, or will it occur catastrophically?”

“If the United States at some point has to strike preemptively against North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, there’s every prospect that that could ignite a broader conflict on the peninsula that would be devastating all around, and would almost certainly produce the collapse of the North Korean regime. I would say to China, ‘Look, we can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way. Which would you rather do?’” he advised.

“That’s why I think the larger objective of reunification has to be really the policy objective because we tried to stop the nuclear program in North Korea for 25 years and we have failed. We have failed because persuasion has failed. We have failed because coercion has failed. We have failed because the combination of coercion and persuasion has failed. So now we’re going to try it again? I just hope that’s not where the State Department is going,” said Bolton.

Marlow suggested it might be difficult to reconcile the intense amount of diplomacy and economic involvement required to achieve Korean unification with President Trump’s campaign promise of an “America First” foreign policy.

“The detonation of a nuclear weapon on a major American city can really concentrate your attention,” Bolton replied. “This is putting America first. We are a global power. That’s a reality. Therefore, our interests are worldwide. South Korea and Japan are two of our biggest trading partners, and they are threatened by this erratic, irrational regime in North Korea. We are on the verge of being threatened in the United States ourselves. We’ve got inadequate defense capabilities.”

“Barack Obama gutted the national missile defense program that George Bush had started. We’d be in much better shape if we could defend ourselves against North Korean or Iranian missile launches, but we have a wholly inadequate capability at the moment. So there are a lot of challenges that the president has to face, even though – like most presidents, I suppose – he’d rather focus on domestic issues,” Bolton observed.

John Bolton is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and president of his own political action committee, BoltonPAC.

Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

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