Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton will replace Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as White House National Security Advisor (NSA) on April 9, President Donald Trump announced in a tweet on Thursday.
The reshuffle follows the surprise announcement earlier in the month that Trump had accepted an invitation to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “by May.”
It is also the second sacking of a senior administration official since the announcement, following the dismissal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on March 13.
“I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, @AmbJohnBolton will be my new National Security Advisor,” Trump posted on Twitter.
“I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend. There will be an official contact handover on 4/9,” he added.
The White House also issued further statements from McMaster and Trump.
“After thirty-four years of service to our nation, I am requesting retirement from the U.S. Army effective this summer after which I will leave public service,” McMaster was quoted as saying.
He also thanked the President who, in turn, issued a statement praising McMaster, who took over the NSA job following the resignation of Michael Flynn in February last year.
“H.R. McMaster has served his country with distinction for more than 30 years. He has won many battles and his bravery and toughness are legendary,” the President said in the statement.
“He helped develop our America First National Security Strategy, revitalize our alliances in the Middle East, smash ISIS, bring North Korea to the table, and strengthen our nation’s prosperity,” he added.
Bolton served as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs and as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush.
He is known as a hardliner. A strong defender of the U.S. decision in 2003 to invade Iraq, he has been highly vocal in his condemnation of both North Korea as well as diplomatic deals between the U.S. and DPRK struck in the past.
In 2014, Bolton told NK News that North Korea is a “terrorist state,” and as such should not be legitimized through deals.
Bolton has also argued that North Korea will ultimately use its nuclear weapons not just for self-defense but also for more aggressive purposes, a notion that has increasingly gained traction among members of the Trump administration.
“At some point, people have to recognize that North Korea wants nuclear weapons not just for self-defense, but they still want to reunify the Korean Peninsula under their control,” Bolton told a security forum in February.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed that month, Bolton also made the case that the U.S. is within its right to launch a pre-emptive strike against North Korea.
“It is perfectly legitimate for the United States to respond to the current ‘necessity’ posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons by striking first,” he wrote.
Featured Image: Mark Taylor, Flickr Creative Commons
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