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John Bolton: Odds of U.S. pre-emptive strike against North Korea are 'zero'

The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said the consequences would be too costly for South Korea.

By
Elizabeth Shim
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told South Korean lawmakers this week a pre-emptive strike against North Korea is unlikely under a Trump administration because of the consequences. File Photo by Ezio Petersen/UPI
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told South Korean lawmakers this week a pre-emptive strike against North Korea is unlikely under a Trump administration because of the consequences. File Photo by Ezio Petersen/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- A former U.S. official being considered by President-elect Donald Trump's transition team for the secretary of state position said there's zero likelihood the incoming administration would launch a pre-emptive strike against North Korea in response to a provocation.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said a pre-emptive strike would be undesirable because of the costs it would bear on South Korea, Yonhap reported.

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Bolton made the statement during a meeting with a delegation of South Korean lawmakers who are in New York and Washington, D.C., this week to meet with senior U.S. officials who are poised to be key influences in the Trump administration.

According to the lawmakers, Bolton said he had visited Seoul and the Korean demilitarized zone many times and know well the consequences of military action in the country.

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But Bolton also said North Korea's nuclear and missile threats are emerging as the most troublesome issue for U.S. foreign policy and readiness is key, according to the report.

There are 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, and their presence has been maintained by a bilateral burden-sharing agreement between Seoul and Washington.

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In the days following Trump's victory, some analysts have suggested the president-elect would look to increase South Korea's share of costs in retaining U.S. troops.

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But a report from conservative think tank Heritage Foundation published Wednesday stated Seoul already "provides substantial resources to defray the costs of U.S. Forces" in Korea.

"It provides some $900 million annually in either direct funding or in-kind support, covering cost-sharing for labor, logistics and improvements in facilities," the report says.

The report also estimates North Korea retains about eight nuclear weapons, a fraction of the total number, which it estimated at 3,582 worldwide.

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Trump has said little about North Korea in the course of his campaign, but South Korean analyst Nam Sung-wook said Thursday the president-elect might take a new approach that could include offering a peace treaty on the condition of a nuclear freeze, Yonhap reported.

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