Prospective U.S. National Security Advisor (NSA) John Bolton on Sunday said North Korea and the U.S. must use an upcoming summit between the two countries to “cut to the chase” on the denuclearization issue.
Speaking in an interview on the “Cats Roundtable” radio show, Bolton said Pyongyang is seeking to “buy more time” through talks with the U.S. and will attempt to prolong negotiations while it continues developing its nuclear weapons.
Bolton’s comments come following the news on Thursday that U.S. President Donald Trump has chosen him to replace H.R. McMaster as National Security Advisor.
“I think we have to look at what North Korea’s motivation is here,” Bolton – who is known widely for his hardline views on Pyongyang – said, adding he would expect to involved in preparation for the summit “as soon as” he joins Trump’s security team.
Bolton said the administration had accelerated preparations for the summit between Kim and Trump, warning that waiting several months would give Pyongyang too much room to maneuver.
“Actually although it’s certainly true the normal route here is months and months and months of preparation, that would simply play into the North Korean playbook: what they’ve done many times before,” he said, adding that Pyongyang and Washington would need to begin “concrete” discussions on denuclearization as soon as possible.
“Is North Korea going to give up its nuclear weapons? How are we going to do it? How are we going to take it out of the country?” he continued. “The sooner we get to it, cut to the chase, the better.”
This suggested approach runs counter to previous agreements between the U.S. and the DPRK, including a joint statement issued in September 2005 following the fourth round of the Six-Party Talks, which said the North Korean nuclear issue would have to be solved step by step.
The South Korean government, too, has said that the first step for negotiations toward denuclearization would be a freeze of missile and nuclear testing, with complete denuclearization as a long-term goal.
“They’ve got a fairly limited number of things they need to do in North Korea to make their nuclear warheads actually deliverable on targets in the United States,” Bolton said on Sunday.
“So, they want to try and slow roll the negotiations to buy more time. This is something they’ve done consistently over the last 25 years.”
Speaking to the U.S. Radio Free Asia (RFA) on Thursday, Bolton also expressed skepticism about Pyongyang’s commitment to the planned summit.
Bolton, who previously served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, has reiterated the urgency of the North Korean nuclear issue in recent years, and several times called for the U.S. to take military action against Pyongyang.
“Given the gaps in U.S. intelligence about North Korea, we should not wait until the very last minute. That would risk striking after the North has deliverable nuclear weapons, a much more dangerous situation,” he wrote in a February op-ed for the Wall Street Journal.
Bolton is due to take office as National Security Advisor on April 9.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Gage Skidmore
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