Donald Trump has threatened Kim Jong-un with the same fate as Muammar Gaddafi if the North Korean leader “doesn’t make a deal” on his nuclear weapons programme.
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 12 June in Singapore.
The model Bolton was referring to was Gaddafi’s agreement in December 2003 to surrender his embryonic nuclear weapons programme, which included allowing his uranium centrifuges to be shipped out to the US.
But Trump appeared to be unaware of that agreement, and interpreted the “Libyan model” to mean the 2011 Nato intervention in Libya in support of an insurrection, which ultimately led to Gaddafi’s murder at the hands of rebels in Tripoli.
“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 KJU is going to be very, very happy,” Trump said.
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 came at a time when the June summit is in doubt. The Pyongyang regime reacted strongly against statements by Bolton over the weekend, insisting that 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.
In his remarks on Thursday, Trump stressed that Kim would receive strong security guarantees if he agreed to disarm.
“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’s get protections that will be very strong.”