Bolton says U.S. must act fast to investigate North Korean smuggling freighter

John Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said on Sunday that President Barack Obama should not defer to the U.N. in the investigation of a North Korean smuggling vessel.

Bolton, the author of Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad, said Panama's recent interdiction of a North Korean freighter bearing cargo from Cuba should open the President's eyes. While Havana and Pyongyang claim the ship was transporting obsolete weapons, Bolton said that even if this is the truth, the newly revealed rogue state trade route could spell trouble for the world, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"The freighter could well represent a pattern of trafficking in weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, with Havana purchasing Pyongyang's missiles, previously marketed to the Middle East and Africa, and other dangerous weaponry," Bolton said, according to the Wall Street Journal. "We have no idea how often North Korean ships have made this passage, but last week obviously wasn't the first one."

Bolton said that President Obama is not moving quickly enough to look into the suspect cargo, which may have contained illegal narcotics in addition to weaponry. Instead, the President is allowing the U.N. to first evaluate potential sanctions violations. Bolton said the deferment could hinder U.S. counter-proliferation efforts.

"U.N. inspectors won't even reach Panama until August 5, very belatedly, and they will bring into the picture North Korean and Cuban friends like China and Russia, potentially hindering U.S. counter-proliferation efforts," Bolton said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Bolton closed by asking if President Obama would use the information about dangerous trade among rogue states wisely or if he would ignore it to upset unlikely negotiations with Pyongyang and Tehran, the Wall Street Journal reports.