1243 GMT December 13, 2018
US President Donald Trump threatened Kim Jong-un with the same fate as former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi if the North Korean leader “doesn’t make a deal” on his nuclear weapons program.
The US president issued the threat at the White House when he was asked about the recent suggestion by his national security adviser John Bolton that the “Libyan model” be a template for dealing with North Korea at a summit between Trump and Kim planned for June 12 in Singapore.
The model Bolton was referring to was Gaddafi’s agreement in December 2003 to surrender his embryonic nuclear weapons program, which included allowing his uranium centrifuges to be shipped out to the US, the Guardian reported.
“The model, if you look at that model with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation. We went in there to beat him. Now that model would take place if we don’t make a deal, most likely. But if we make a deal, I think Kim Jong-un is going to be very, very happy,” Trump said.
“This with Kim Jong-un would be something where he would be there. He would be running his country. His country would be very rich,” the president said.
“We’re willing to do a lot, and he’s willing … to do a lot also, and I think we’ll actually have a good relationship, assuming we have the meeting and assuming something comes of it. And he’ll get protections that will be very strong.”
Asked whether his comments meant that he disagreed with his national security adviser, the third of his administration, the president said: “I think when John Bolton made that statement, he was talking about if we are going to be having a problem, because we cannot let that country have nukes. We just can’t do it.”
The inflammatory comments come at a time when the June meeting is in doubt. Pyongyang reacted strongly against statements by Bolton over the weekend, who insisted North Korea would have to dismantle its nuclear arsenal completely and immediately. A senior official said on Wednesday that Kim would not take part in a summit with such “one-sided” goals.
Pyongyang has also complained about joint military exercises being conducted by US and South Korean forces. The country’s mission to the United Nations issued a statement on Thursday saying that nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and F-22 fighter planes were taking part in the exercises. He described it as “an extremely provocative and ill-boding act”.
However, Trump said that despite Pyongyang’s threats to call off the summit, “they’ve been negotiating like nothing happened”.
The state department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said: “We are continuing to push ahead and plan our preparations. Those continue at this time for a meeting between the president and Kim Jong-un in June.”