Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton says the "risk of miscalculation" on the Korean peninsula is "very, very high" and agrees with the U.S. decision to rush both ground-and ship-based missile defense systems to the region.
"They're well past prior North Korean playbooks on this,” Bolton told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday night, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's threat to launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. and its allies.
“And some of the steps [Pyongyang has] taken — cutting off hotlines, barring South Korean workers from the Kaesong facility — have ratcheted this up to a point where I think the risk of miscalculation on the peninsula is very, very high."
Bolton, a Fox News contributor, said it is not likely North Korean nuclear missiles can reach the United States, but said the U.S. should not underestimate "their capability to do something to South Korea or Japan."
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"I think one indication that the Pentagon does take this more seriously than what you call the usual irrational rhetoric from North Korea is that they have decided to install a missile defense facility on Guam, a ground based missile defense facility," he said.
Bolton said placing a defense system on Guam would "free up two Aegis class destroyers with a very similar kind of theater missile defense system to go closer to North Korea to provide additional protection for our troops . . . and for South Korea and Japan.
"So in the short-term, I think that the Pentagon is acknowledging implicitly by this move that they are concerned."
Bolton added that given the circumstances, South Korea may have no alternative but to respond to any provocation.
"That's why this risk of miscalculating is so high," he said. "A couple of years ago they sank a South Korean corvette and killed 43, 44 South Korean sailors. The South did not retaliate. The North Koreans shelled a civilian village on the island off the west coast of Korea; the government of South Korea did not retaliate.
"So the people there and the new president [Park Geun-hye] I think are primed to do something in response if North Korea takes the step," he continued.
Bolton said the decades-old U.S. policy of pursuing negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program was "a bad idea" that "hasn't gotten any better with age."
"The threat here is the irrationality of this regime, coupled with this potential to use a weapon of mass destruction against innocent civilians. And we're not going to talk them out of it, he added. "The solution lies in eliminating the regime, which we could try and do through reunifying the peninsula."
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