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Thursday, Jan. 18, 2007

World must end Kim's regime, Bolton says

Staff writer

The world must pursue the collapse of the Pyongyang regime by increasing economic sanctions through private financial institutions because the six-nation talks on denuclearizing North Korea have failed, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton said Wednesday.

Pyongyang's ballistic missile tests in July and its October nuclear test demonstrated that diplomacy has failed to achieve "complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear weapons program," Bolton told a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo.

The former envoy prefaced his remarks by saying he was speaking in a private capacity. Fears that sanctions will provoke violence by the North are misguided, because Pyongyang could attack with or without them, he said.

"The prospect of a North Korean attack on South Korea or Japan, or almost anybody else, exists right now," Bolton told reporters at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo.

"The regime is so erratic and so divorced from the reality that we understand in the larger world, that the continued possibility of an attack by North Korea is really one of the grounds on which we should seek the end of the regime -- through peaceful means -- as soon as possible," Bolton said, the same message he reportedly gave Tuesday to Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma.

There is concern in Asia that if Kim's regime collapses, it would spark a war and a flood of refugees out of the hermit nation. China has reportedly discouraged the U.S. from even hinting at regime change.

Bolton, who arrived Saturday in Tokyo for a weeklong visit as a guest of the government, stepped down as ambassador in December in the face of accusations that his foreign policy approach was brusque and unproductive.

He is currently a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute think tank and remains influential with powerful conservatives in Washington who advocate the use of U.S. power to promote national interests worldwide.

Bolton infuriated North Korea in 2003 when, as undersecretary of state, he called leader Kim Jong Il a "tyrannical dictator" and said "life is a hellish nightmare" for many North Koreans.

Pyongyang was so angered by the remarks that it demanded Bolton not be a part of the U.S. delegation to the six-party talks.

The six-party talks bring together China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States. They resumed in December after a 13-month hiatus, but yielded nothing in part over North Korea's anger over U.S. sanctions on Macau-based Banco Delta Asia bank, which Washington alleges has been laundering money for Pyongyang.

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