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Bolton Torpedoed the Hanoi Summit, Reuters Confirms

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Written by Mike Whitney; Originally appeared at The Unz Review

An explosive report by Reuters confirms that John Bolton sabotaged the denuclearization talks between Kim Jong un and Donald Trump in Hanoi in February. According to a March 29 exclusive by journalists Lesley Wroughton and David Brunnstrom:

“Donald Trump handed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a piece of paper” demanding that Kim surrender all of his “nuclear weapons and bomb fuel to the United States.” Trump also added a number of unrelated demands including “fully dismantling” all “chemical and biological warfare program(s)…. and ballistic missiles, launchers, and associated facilities.” Trump surprised Kim by demanding complete, unilateral disarmament in exchange for a flimsy promise to lift economic sanctions sometime in the future. Naturally, Kim rejected the offer.

Bolton Torpedoed the Hanoi Summit, Reuters Confirms

Here’s more from the same article:

“The document appeared to represent Bolton’s long-held and hardline “Libya model” of denuclearization that North Korea has rejected repeatedly….North Koreans rejected Bolton’s repeated demands for it to follow a denuclearization model under which components of Libya’s nuclear program were shipped to the United States in 2004.

Seven years after a denuclearization agreement was reached between the United States and Libya’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, the United States took part in a NATO-led military operation against his government and he was overthrown by rebels and killed” (“Exclusive: With a piece of paper, Trump called on Kim to hand over nuclear weapons”, Reuters)

Bolton presented Kim with an offer he knew Kim would reject, the same offer that led to the destruction of Libya and the savage murder of Gaddafi. Bolton wanted the talks to fail so he could push for tougher sanctions that would pave the way for regime change. That was his goal. Kim’s nuclear weapons were never the target, they were merely the pretext for intensifying the economic strangulation, the relentless belligerence and the threats of war.

But why would Trump agree to go along with this fraud? And why has Trump deployed more troops to Syria while green-lighting Israel to annex the Golan Heights?

Is there a connection between Trump’s (recent) foreign policy reversals and the termination of the Mueller investigation? Did Trump make a deal with his deep state antagonists to get Mueller off his back?

It’s hard to say, but there was no reason for Mueller to wrap up the investigation. The probe was doing exactly what it was supposed to do: Create a 4th branch of government that was empowered to hector, harass and indict anyone it chose in order to keep the administration on the defensive, derail any effort to normalize relations with Russia, and undermine the legitimacy and moral authority of the president. Why would Mueller give up all that if it wasn’t part of some undisclosed Grand Bargain?

He wouldn’t.

On a personal level, Trump trusts Kim which is why he probably wanted to cut a deal. An article in last week’s Korea’s Hankyoreh news supports this view. Check it out:

“During the North Korea-US summit in Hanoi last month, US President Donald Trump reportedly had a positive perspective on relaxing sanctions on North Korea provided that there was a “snapback” clause that would reinstate sanctions if the North failed to implement its agreement. North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui made this statement during a briefing to foreign diplomats in Pyongyang on Mar. 15, but her full remarks hadn’t been made public until now.

According to the text of Choe’s remarks released on Mar. 25, she said, “When we made a practical proposal in the talks, President Trump adopted the flexible position that an agreement would be possible if a clause was added stating that the sanctions could be reinstated if North Korea resumed nuclear activities after the sanctions were lifted.” But Choe went on to say that, “because of their continuing hostility and mistrust, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House National Security Advisor John Bolton created obstacles to the two leaders’ efforts to have constructive negotiations, and ultimately the summit didn’t produce meaningful results.”

. … According to Choe’s statement … the two leaders appear to have explored the possibility of trading Yongbyon’s shutdown for partial sanctions relief. … Choe’s remarks imply that the ultimate reason the summit concluded without an agreement was because of resistance from Pompeo and Bolton.” (“Trump responded positively to relaxing sanctions with “snapback clause” during Hanoi summit”, Hankyoreh News)

The Hankyoreh article corroborates much of what is stated in the Reuters piece. Both articles acknowledge that the nuclear talks were scuppered by Bolton.

The media has consistently misled its readers about what actually took place at Hanoi and who should ultimately be held responsible for its failure. According to CNN:

“Kim had demanded total sanctions relief upfront in exchange for only partial denuclearization, leaving the two sides at an impasse….(Wrong) Trump cast his decision to walk away as evidence that he will not accept a bad deal, (Wrong) but the abrupt conclusion of his much-ballyhooed second summit nonetheless amounted to the most stinging setback yet in his effort to achieve North Korea’s denuclearization through direct talks with its leader…. (Wrong, it wasn’t a setback, it was deliberate.)

More than anything, the failure to produce results during the second summit called into question the personality-driven diplomacy that has been at the core of Trump’s effort to end the North Korean nuclear threat.” (Wrong, again) (“Takeaways from the Trump-Kim Hanoi summit”, CNN)

None of this is true. The meetings didn’t fail because of Trump’s “personality-driven diplomacy”. They failed because Bolton deliberately blew them up. That’s what happened. As one would expect, virtually everything CNN tries to pass off as evenhanded, thoroughly-researched journalism is nothing more than misleading gobbledygook served up by political activists. (The dismal Hanoi coverage helps to show that the Trump-collusion fiction was not a “one off”, but a critical feature of media policy which aims to shape the news according to the political agenda of elites.)

But if the Trump administration is unwilling to honestly negotiate with the North, then how can Kim possibly move forward with his plan to establish peaceful relations with his friends in the South and his allies in the region?

The only way forward for Kim is to bypass the Trump administration altogether and strengthen relations with those who will help him achieve his strategic objectives. He must show that he is a trustworthy partner who is willing to continue along the path of denuclearization regardless of the obstacles and provocations created by the United States. He must continue to seek the input of leaders in Beijing, Moscow and Seoul and prove to them that he is unwaveringly committed to ridding the peninsula of its nuclear weapons in the interests of peace and security. Kim must welcomeinternational weapons inspectors to monitor the decommissioning of his nuclear arsenal and his nuclear enrichment plants. He must increase the frequency of his visits to Seoul where his public approval ratings have skyrocketed and where his efforts for peace and reunification are applauded by nearly 80% of the people. He must “promote his own denuclearization timetable” and present his case to the UN Security Council for review. He must convince the public that he will not backtrack on his ironclad commitment to dialogue, cooperation, economic integration and peace.

According to Hankyoreh News, Kim’ Jong un’s chief of staff and protocol officer made a secret trip to Moscow last week “fueling speculation that Kim Jong-un may be about to pay a visit to Russia.” At the same time, a senior national security official (Kim Hyun-chong) from South Korea visited Russia as well.

Can you see what’s going on? What these secret meetings suggest is that regional leaders are now developing a “post-Hanoi” strategy that will take into account Kim’s eagerness to cooperate and Washington’s obstinate rejection of any policy that does not further enhance its own vicious grip on power. The Trump team is no longer in the loop. Regional bigwigs are taking matters into their own hands and moving forward.

As we pointed out in an earlier piece, Kim is neither a firebrand nor ideological. He is a contemporary man who who wants to make his own mark on the world, lead his country into the modern era, and join the coalition of nations that are fast becoming the biggest trading block in history.

Here’s how author John Delury summed it up in a recent op-ed in the New York Times:

“Mr. Kim wants to be a great economic reformer…(He wants to) shift the regime’s focus, from security to prosperity….He wants North Korea to … catch up with and integrate into the region, and it’s in everyone’s interest to help him do so…”(“Kim Jong-un Has a Dream. The U.S. Should Help Him Realize It”, New York Times)

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  • JustPassingThrough

    The Trump team u.s. is no longer in the loop.
    The 3 stooges (bolton, pompeo and pence) have done more to bring about the demise of the american empire than the village idiot and the kenyan put together.

    • You can call me Al

      Personally I think Bolton has absorbed McCain’s evil as well as his own; probably through some Satanic ritual. He needs eliminating for the good of mankind.

      • occupybacon

        Bolton was a villain when McCain was a little boy

        • Turbofan

          lol..lol..lol..So true..Bolton is like the grand father of Satan..

      • S Melanson

        No, no no… Satan was fired for not being evil enough. Bolton is Satan’s replacement with Pompeo as first runner-up.

    • Jesus

      The empire ship started slowly sinking a while ago, the three stooges are on deck doing the same thing the previous stooges did, without being able to save the ship.

    • occupybacon

      Pence and Bolton were not Trump’s choices, they were pushed by the Neocon lobby

  • You can call me Al

    It is about time that Russia,China and South Korea (Japan may be a step to far), tell the US to go to hell and bring North Korea back into today, slowly at first but ignore all US sanctions and at least feed them and heat them.

    • Harry Smith

      As long as USA controls SWIFT and most popular world reserve currency, your suggestion can’t be realized.

      • You can call me Al

        Russia and China are off or will be shortly, Even Europe has an alternative for dealings to Iran.

    • Ray Douglas

      The sanctions are UN sanctions, approved by Russia and China and a majority of other countries. What China and Russia and lots of other countries need to do is leave the UN and be with the Non Aligned Movement.

      • You can call me Al

        hmmm, not sure about that, I’ll have a think.

  • jm74

    Read elsewhere that Trump demanded NK to turn over their nuclear arsenal, Kim refused hence the failed meeting.

    • 1691

      This article comes from the unz review. Somehow I struggle to believe anything coming from there.

  • peter mcloughlin

    At the beginning of last year the rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang was very belligerent, the countries on course for war – then a rapprochement. I’m not too sure how this came about: what was its purpose? The change coincided with increased belligerence towards Iran, and talk of war. Did the US want to avoid fighting on two fronts at the same time, put North Korea on the back-burner and deal with Tehran first? Or did it feel it would have a stronger case for confronting Iran if it could point to a peace deal with Kim Jung-un? What was the reason for John Bolton scuppering the Hanoi Summit, as Reuters allege? Did he think the North Koreans could be simply brow-beaten into handing over their nuclear arsenal? What was Kim’s reason for rapprochement with Trump? Did he want to avail of the economic prosperity on offer from the American tycoon? Did he want to loosen the hold Beijing had over his nation, in an unsatisfactory lord-vassal relationship? Or was he simply playing for time, to be ready for the war that would inevitably come?
    The facts are unclear, opaque. But these events are a piece in the jigsaw of history, the picture emerging is a world heading for nuclear war. The rapprochement has disturbing similarities with Munich 1938 and the German-USSR non-aggression pact prior to world war two. The pattern of history points to world war.
    https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/

    • JustPassingThrough

      with all due respect, the only thing of any substance in your post is; ”

      The facts are unclear, opaque.” the rest is your opinion. And this is totally unsupported by anything you have said “The pattern of history points to world war.”
      sorry. wash rinse repeat.

      • Robert Ferrin

        Probably right as the orange clown threatened to nuke Russia if they didn’t get out of Venezuela, or perhaps the coming anarchy that’s spreading around the world, which as a rule is the end result of war.!!!

        • JustPassingThrough

          FR has already declared war, on its own citizens.
          Who is next, i wonder?

  • Tony B.

    Lots of words which, as usual, ignore real reasons for Trump’s actions (and not just his). Trump, like both Clintons, was a user of the Lolita Express to the under age girl island, all of which belongs to the sleazy Mossad Jew, “friend” of Trump. Blackmail by Mossad is what runs Trump as well as the Clintons, Pense and likely the majority of congress. Pompeo and Bolton? probably.
    That’s how the world goes around today. Forget what the mouthpieces say. Just blather with nothing solid to any of it. Threats run the “big” boys too.

  • Ray Douglas

    If Kim agrees to anything with the US he needs his head examined. Surely he has learned by the experience of Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran and Venezuela. Don’t do it!

  • Sukhoi

    North Korea has the full right to have nuclear weapons, if they give them up, US will very well start a massive NATO-led 50+ country bombing campaign against them, similar to the Serbian 1999 and Libya 2011 model. North Korea will be powerful and have great deterrence with long range ICBM and thermonuclear weapons

    • verner

      and a small duty to pass on the know how to countries like iran, syria, turkey und zu weiter, countries that are adjacent to the criminally insane squatters on palestinian land. more nukes to those guys that are neighbours with the squatters. and iraq of course.

  • Lazy Gamer

    The mueller distraction is evident whenever trump goes abroad. The msm is also willing to help that scheme out. Bolton or pompeo might be against it but ultimately it is Trump’s call. Trump could have swung the existing trajectory of East Asia but chose not to.

  • verner

    kim not entirely stupid, is he. but the morons from washington dc, the corrupt and criminally insane cabal, are indeed more than stupid, unless of course, the exercise with kim was just a make believe part of bolton’s plan to clean out kim and his gang once and for all and do something about china that has had the temerity to start a petro-yuan petroleum-futures trading platform, has had the temerity to reduce buying us-bonds, has had the temerity to challenge the morons in the south china sea, has had the temerity to engage in the new silk road enterprise, has had the temerity to engage other countries as beneficiaries of the new silk road project, has had the temerity to project the new silk road project into africa, has had the temerity to build rail-roads in africa and has had the temerity to be interested in african raw materials in a way that the morons also are but pays for it which the morons never has.

    so get rid of kim in one swoop and then take on china before it has all its preparations in place – two birds with one stone.

  • S Melanson

    Whether one agrees or not with this articles premise, it is well written and provokes debate and that is a good thing. It also uses citations and uses them well. There has been some good articles lately atSouthfront and hope this continues.

    I do question the author discussing denuclearization as a must given powerful arguments earlier in the article for why Kim should not give up nukes. This made the first half of the article disjointed with the latter half.

    Also that Trump has the final say as President is true in theory but not in practice. Trump is like those before him, bought and paid for, although he may be more challenging to keep in line. When President’s veer off course too much, we get the JFK ‘solution’ to remedy the problem.

    However, Trump is backed by a powerful faction of elites that Are challenging the status quo in some but not all respects – it is Trumps swamp replacing the old swamp but the two swamps are not all that different – US full spectrum dominance is still policy as far as I can see although the high handed approach seems to be damaging US hegemony. Regardless, Trump selecting Bolton and Pompeo is key as we would expect them to behave as they are behaving. So why were they chosen inthe first place. Secondly, Trump has powerful backers and so it is debatable a deal was struck to end the Mueller investigation and I believe deeper investigation is needed as well as discussion of alternative explanations that may be also plausible. The Author provides some but not sufficient case for a deal as described. But still, a good thought provoking article.