Jeffrey LewisBolton Lobbies Against North Korea Deal

Susan Crabtree in The Hill reports that John Bolton is lobbying against the North Korea deal:

Other top Bush administration officials, such as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, have criticized Bush since leaving office. But they have refrained from meeting with large groups of lawmakers to lay out their opposition.

Bolton did just that in an address last week to a joint meeting of Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans and Republican Policy Committee members, as well as in a separate session with the Conservative Opportunity Society, a group of right-leaning Republicans founded by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). In both meetings, Bolton expressed his concerns about the nuclear agreement reached by the U.S., North Korea and four other countries earlier this month.

Forty-two members attended the joint meeting where Bolton reiterated his longstanding position that trusting North Korea to abide by its promises is the wrong approach, according to a GOP aide who attended. He also spoke about North Korea’s role in Syria’s nuclear ambitions and encouraged members to review controversial testimony he gave to the Foreign Affairs Committee in September 2003 that figured into his contentious Senate confirmation battle.

And he has a new book out in a few weeks entitled, Surrender Is Not An Option.

How about leaving Chris Hill the hell alone? Is that an option?

(PS: A colleague reminds me to make sure I caricature public figures I admire, as well as those I don’t. On that score, I nailed Chris Hill with one of the first caricatures, back in January.)


  1. Eli (History)

    Here’s some information to consider.
    John Bolton left his recess apt. as US Amb. to UN on Dec 9, 2006.

    Old School lobbying rules prevent high level or appointed members of the executive from lobbying for one year.

    Last week was not 1 year from Dec 9, 2006.

    Now, I may be wrong in that former administration only can’t lobby the current administration, but that’s a pretty flimsy loophole in legislation if it allows them to lobby all the people they knew in Congress.

  2. Miles Pomper (History)

    What Bolton did would not likely be technically considered lobbying—-he’s being an advocate for a point of view, not for a company or organization. So it’s hardly illegal.And it seems to have some effect. See the piece that Ros-Lehtinen and Pete “yes there’s WMD in Iraq” Hoekstra penned in the WSJ this weekend vis North Korea-Syria..

  3. J (History)

    The rule only applies to former Executive Branch officials lobbying their former colleagues in the Executive Branch. The same applies to Members of Congress and their staff — they are free to lobby Members of the Executive Branch, but must abide by restrictions on lobbying Congress. The theory, which is perfectly sensible, is that one should not be allowed to trade on access to and influence with one’s former colleagues.

  4. Haninah (History)


    I believe, though I’m not sure, that those rules apply only to lobbying in the traditional sense of speaking with Members on behalf of, or against, a specific piece of legislation. And possibly only if you’re accepting a salary for doing so. The type of stuff you need to be a registered lobbyist for.

    I doubt that there are rules preventing former government officials from being invited to give talks to legislators about subjects that are, however you slice it, entirely within the space of their expertise (formally speaking – whether John Bolton has expertise in anything other than being a d*******g, I can’t say).

  5. abcd (History)

    No lie: I was recently on an airplane with Jon Bolton, heading from Charlotte back to DC. He sat in first class so I didn’t get a chance to speak to the guy. If I did, I was planning to tell him that his moustache made him look like a walrus, but I gather he has heard that one before.

  6. Jon W (History)

    I find Bolton’s recent quotes in support of his book very insightful. He openly admits that he sought to undermine the position of his boss, Secretary of State Collin Powell. He was openly insubordinate and disloyal to his chain of command. His values speak for themselves, as does his lack of a successful track record. As Joe C has correctly pointed out, every nonproliferation situation the Bushies inherited, with the exception of Libya, has gotten worse. Thanks, John. Have fun on the book tour.

  7. Eli (History)

    Ah, point taken all.
    Although tt can’t be a coincidence that he was giving these talks near the time the Congress will be asked to approve the $106 million in heavy fuel oil aid.

  8. Anon (History)

    “Surrender is not an option”

    Sung to the tune: “Killing me softly with his song” by Roberta Flack


    Strumming my pain with his fingers
    Ruining my legacy with his agreement
    Surrender is not an option…..Surrender is not an option
    Betraying my work with his words
    Killing me softly
    With his deal…


    I heard Chris Hill made a good deal
    I heard he had a way [with Kim]
    And so I tried to see him and lobby my colleagues
    And there he was at his six party talks
    An enemy to my eyes…


    I felt all flushed with anger
    Embarrassed by the crowd
    I felt he found my memos and discredited each one out loud
    I pray that he would go away
    But he just kept right on dealing


    He negotiated as if he’s with me
    In all my dark despair
    And then he dealt right behind my back as if I was not there
    And he just kept on dealing
    Wheeling and dealing with Kim
    Making me pain with his accord


    oooooo….la la la la la la…..ooooooooooo…la la la la laaaaa


  9. Anonymous

    Although I realize that arms controllers and the Left view John Bolton as “evil incarnate,” I think Mr Bolton’s actual views on the DPRK — not just a caricature of them (or, for that matter, him) — deserve a fair airing. From Mr Bolton’s August 2007 op-ed (see far below), it appears that he’s not against the idea of an agreement per se, but rather favors what he would consider to be a truly meaningful agreement — that is, one that contains, inter alia, mechanisms (e.g., intrusive, no-notice inspections; wide area surveillance; unfettered access to relevant interviewees) to verify effectively both the completeness and correctness of the DPRK’s nuclear declarations. It is worth noting that the inspection authority under North Korea’s comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA (or, for that matter, under the Additional Protocol, which the DPRK hasn’t signed; and perhaps under the yet-to-be-fully-decided terms of the forthcoming Agreed Framework sequel) fall far, far short of Mr Bolton’s ideal.

    Although I wish Chris Hill the best, I worry that our current elation over Mr Hill’s apparent progress in the six-party talks may prove similar to the elation that attended Pyongyang’s signing of the 1992 Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The agreement’s words, which encouraged no small amount of optimism, were overshadowed within a few months by the total DPRK’s unwillingness to declare completely to the IAEA the nuclear materials in is possession.

    If part of Mr Bolton’s message is that we should measure the North Koreans not simply the words to which they claim to commit themselves, but also by the actions they truly undertake — then that’s a message that, given the weight of the North Korea’s diplomatic hiostry, is worth at least considering. But if agreement only for agreement’s sake is what one prizes above all else, then by all means, continue to demonize and dismiss the walrus.


    “Pyongyang’s Upper Hand”
    John R. Bolton
    Wall Street Journal, Opinion
    August 31, 2007

    The Six-Party talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program have now descended into a miasma of “working groups,” one of which, on U.S.-North Korea bilateral issues, will meet this weekend in Geneva. It is worth paying attention to the outcome of this gathering.

    North Korea wants to be taken off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and, as soon as possible, to enjoy full diplomatic relations with Washington. Pyongyang may well succeed, as many in the U.S. State Department seem more eager to grant full recognition to the Pyongyang dictatorship in North Korea than to the democracy in Taiwan. This would be a profound mistake on our part.

    Nearly 200 days have passed since Feb. 13, when the Six-Party Talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program produced an “agreement” to eliminate that program. Despite encomiums about the virtues of diplomacy, little real progress has been made in eliminating Pyongyang’s program. Negotiations in July ended without agreement on a timetable, despite repeated State Department assurances since February that the North would be held to strict deadlines.

    The Yongbyon reactor is shuttered, but that reactor was not frequently operational in the recent past, and may well be at the end of, or even beyond, its useful life. The return of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to Yongbyon provides North Korea with a new patina of respectability, despite the near certainty that significant nuclear activity is happening anywhere but Yongbyon.

    In fact, the key change is that economic assistance is once again subsidizing and reinforcing Kim Jong-il’s hold on power. Heavy fuel oil, food and other “humanitarian” assistance from South Korea, and substantial unpublicized aid from China are all flowing North. Cheeky Pyongyang is once again demanding that the outside world supply it with light-water nuclear reactors. The second North-South Summit in Pyongyang, postponed until October—closer to South Korea’s presidential elections—will provide renewed legitimacy to the North Korean dictatorship, and may bolster the political chances of South Korean advocates of appeasement, in turn providing Kim Jong-il even more breathing room.

    Kim is once again besting the U.S. in accomplishing his two central strategic objectives: staying in power and preserving his nuclear-weapons program. The working groups currently underway do nothing to achieve the proper ends of U.S. foreign policy. A few weeks ago in Shenyang, China, the “denuclearization” working group met without visible progress, even on permanently dismantling Yongbyon.

    There is still simply no evidence that Pyongyang has made a decision to abandon its long-held strategic objective to have a credible nuclear-weapons capability. This inconvenient fact should make it impossible for the State Department to concede on other issues, even if it were inclined to do so. Creative minds are therefore working on ways to explain that any forthcoming North Korean declaration of its nuclear capabilities is “full and complete,” thus eliminating the remaining troubling obstacles to full normalization of relations.

    Consider a possible North Korean “declaration,” perhaps drafted with State’s coaching, which would say something like this: “We manufactured two nuclear devices, one of which we detonated last October. We detonated the other earlier, but you didn’t recognize it as a nuclear explosion. We currently have no nuclear devices. Our plutonium reprocessing efforts were not very successful, which explains why we only had two devices, neither of which produced large yields. We ultimately disposed of our limited remaining plutonium to others, and we have no idea where it now is. We currently have no plutonium. On uranium enrichment, we purchased some UF6 and a small number of centrifuges for a test cascade from A.Q. Khan, but we could not progress due to inadequate funds. Accordingly, we long ago sold all but a small amount of the UF6 and the centrifuges to third-parties. We will produce what little we have at Yongbyon shortly. That’s it. Are we done now?”

    Many will fall for this pretense of “full disclosure,” especially those needing a diplomatic “success” to justify long years of faith in the Six-Party Talks. The alternative is to reject any North Korean declaration without full and timely verification. IAEA inspections alone are not enough. Its capacities are limited. Indeed, much of the IAEA’s work is accomplished on the basis of intelligence provided by governments.

    Precisely because our knowledge of the North’s nuclear program is incomplete, we need an intrusive, indeed invasive, verification mechanism before having any confidence that North Korea’s nuclear program is in fact being dismantled. We need smart and extensive verification activities inside North Korea, including no-notice inspections, a full range of sensors and sampling, unrestricted interviews and document reviews. If the North rejects effective verification, that is yet another basis to repudiate the Feb. 13 quicksand deal.

    We need to know, among other things, precisely how many nuclear weapons the North has manufactured, how and where it manufactured them, how many it now has, and how much reprocessed plutonium remains available for weaponization. If any devices, fissile material or nuclear manufacturing equipment have left North Korea, we need to learn the specifics.

    We need to understand the full extent of its uranium enrichment program, and if weapons-grade enriched uranium was produced, where it is and how much there is of it. We also need to know specifically if North Korea possesses any enriched uranium metal or any weapons- or missile warhead-design information.

    President Bush has stressed that we must also deal with Pyongyang’s biological, chemical and ballistic missile programs. We must address these programs, especially the missiles, soon. Failure to make explicit the important connection between weapons and delivery systems will certainly come back to haunt us, and we are on the verge of allowing this point to slip away entirely.

    Finally, we need to learn the details of North Korean nuclear cooperation with other countries. We know that both Iran and Syria have long cooperated with North Korea on ballistic missile programs, and the prospect of cooperation on nuclear matters is not far-fetched. Whether and to what extent Iran, Syria or others might be “safe havens” for North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, or may have already participated with or benefited from it, must be made clear.

    For our own safety’s sake, and that of allies like Japan and South Korea, there can be no compromises on these points.

  10. Lao Tao Ren (History)

    Let’s have some sympathy for Amb. Hill and Bolton.

    I do not believe for a moment that DPRK will stick to the denuclearization deal.

    They will get as much as they can out of the ROK and the US – especially the normalization of relations and the end of financial sanctions, and then, almost certainly, they will test again.

    The problem is, realistically, the US do not have a military option. ROK is dead against it, so is China and Russia.

    Military action would almost certainly violate the Armistice agreement, a cornerstone of north east Asian security, with consequences that cannot be predicted.

    If the US were to unilaterally act, e.g. attempted air strikes, it would have to be launched from carriers as it is not clear that Japan and ROK will give permission for an attack to be launched from their soil.

    Furthermore, it is not clear that air strikes will do much good, as it will just encourage the DPRK to dig facilities in deeper and hide them in more elaborate shelters that would be ‘bomb proof’ short of a tactical nuclear bunker buster.

    DPRK no doubt have extracted as much fissionable material as they need in the short run and have the material safely cached away from their enrichment plants and reactors.

    What is needed to credibly eliminate their nuclear capability militarily is boots on the ground in DPRK that, a) the US cannot spare, b) ROK will not consent to, c) China and Russia will object to.

    There is no credible military option from the US perspective.

    There is little chance that DPRK will consent to a deal envisioned by Amb. Bolton with its highly intrusive safeguards.

    Under such circumstances, Amb. Hill’s handiwork is probably the best outcome possible.