Graham: John Bolton has ‘very healthy skepticism’ on North Korea

Senator tells Pyongyang likely to use May summit to buy time while new national security consultant has built suit for striking first

The Republican senator Lindsey Graham said on Sunday he was glad John Bolton is likely to be Donald Trump’s national security consultant going into talks with North Korea, because of his” very healthy skepticism “.

Bolton is a Bush-era United Nations ambassador and noted hawk who has advocated military ten-strikes as the best way to stop North Korea developing a nuclear weapon that can reach the US mainland.

In February, he wrote an op-ed for the Wall street Journal in which he set out” the legal instance for striking North Korea first “.

Bolton will replace Lt Gen HR McMaster- Trump’s second national security adviser after the resignation of another general, Michael Flynn- on 9 April.

News of Bolton’s appointment was greeted by widespread alarm. One nuclear weapon expert told the Guardian Bolton was ” genuinely one of the most extreme, irresponsible, and dangerous voices in the country “.

A US-North Korean summit is slated for May. Hopes have been raised that Kim Jong-un may discuss measures to reduce the risk of being war, perhaps in exchange for security guarantees and an easing of sanctions that have severely affected the already struggling North Korean economy. Bolton has derided the efficacy of economic measures.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Graham said he had dinner with Bolton a couple of nights ago and the hawkish former diplomat had expressed fear that North Korea was ” merely buying period” as it seeks to develop a nuclear-armed rocket.

” He insures these negotiations as a way of buying period ,” said Graham, a is part of the Senate armed service committee whose relationship with Trump has fluctuated between outright aggression and cheerfully golfing proximity. “That’s what they’ve done in the past.”

Graham, from South Carolina, said he would be skeptical about the terms and conditions of the summit. But he hoped Trump would meet with the North Korean leader. Negotiations should be” very focused and get quick action”, he told.

” We don’t want to give him nine months or a year to talk and build a missile at the same period ,” Graham said.

Earlier, on a visit to Beijing, the Democratic Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren told success from talks with Pyongyang would involve getting a commitment to discuss verifiable steps to reduce its nuclear threat.

That would require careful negotiations by a state department vastly lessened under Trump, Warren said.

Trump last month fired secretary of state Rex Tillerson– whom he had previously mocked for saying talks with North Korea might be possible. The chairman has nominated CIA director Mike Pompeo to replace Tillerson. Like Bolton, Pompeo is a hawk considering North Korea.

Graham also cautioned Trump not to remove troops from Syria, after the president proclaimed earlier this week:” Let the other people take care of it now .”

Graham said leaving Syria would allow the Islamic State group to strengthen, the fighting between the Syrian Kurdish militia and Turkey would get out of hand, and Russia and Iran would predominate the country.

” It would be the single worst decision the president could induce ,” Graham said.

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