Rice said at a State Department news conference, "The president and I have asked John to do this work because he knows how to get things done."
"He is a tough-minded diplomat, he has a strong record of success, and he has a proven track record of effective multilateralism."
"The United Nations affords us the opportunity to move our policies forward," said Bolton, who acknowledged that in the past he has written critically about the world body, reported the Associated Press.
Bolton's strong statements have irked leaders in North Korea and China.
Last month, for example, Bolton lashed out at China in a speech before an international audience in Tokyo for not stopping its munitions companies from selling missile technology to Iran and other nations the United States considers rogue states.
He also took the lead in strongly opposing plans of European allies to lift a 15-year embargo and sell weapons to Beijing.
North Korea was so incensed by his public denunciations of its nuclear weapons program that it refused to negotiate with him and he was removed from the U.S. delegation to the now-dormant talks, according to the AP.
In his current post as undersecretary for arms control and international security, Bolton has traveled the world over the past four years to try to halt the spread of dangerous technology.
Before the 1991 Persian Gulf war, Bolton, who was an assistant secretary of state for international organizations, collaborated with then-Secretary of State James Baker III in organizing an alliance with European and Arab countries for the war with Iraq that liberated Kuwait.
If confirmed by the Senate, Bolton would succeed former Sen. John Danforth, who retired in January after serving in the post for just six months.