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John Bolton: North Korea hasn’t taken steps to denuclearize

John Bolton speaking at the 2013 International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
August 07, 2018

North Korea has come under fire by another U.S. official for not living up to its commitment to denuclearize.

National Security Advisor John Bolton criticized North Korea for its lack of progress on denuclearization, saying there had been a lack of “effective steps,” according to a PBS report on Monday.

Bolton told PBS NewsHour correspondent Nick Schifrin: “What was significant about Singapore was the North Korean commitment to denuclearize, and they have not taken effective steps to do that.”

North Korea closing the Punggye-ri nuclear test site was not a sufficient step to denuclearization because international officials were not present to verify the closure, Bolton pointed out.

“When you engage in the process of denuclearization, you need international inspection, you need declarations of what North Korea has, you need observers and inspectors who can verify exactly what’s happening,” Bolton said, adding that the test site may not be disabled.

Critics have argued that the Trump Administration has not made progress toward denuclearization after President Trump and Kim Jong Un agreed upon the issue at the June summit in Singapore. President Trump and other U.S. officials said the meeting was productive and described it as a success.

Bolton said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will soon meet with Kim again in Pyongyang. Pompeo has led the talks with North Korea on denuclearization, and has met with North Korean officials several times this year.

Last week, Pompeo told reporters: “Chairman Kim made a commitment to denuclearize. The world demanded that [he] do so in the U.N. Security Council resolutions. To the extent they are behaving in a manner inconsistent with that, they are a) in violation of one or both the U.N. Security Council resolutions and b) we can see we still have a ways to go to achieve the ultimate outcome we’re looking for.”

Pompeo also told a Senate committee on July 25 that North Korea was continuing the production of nuclear weapons fuel.

North Korean officials have been critical of the Trump Administration’s rhetoric, having called last month’s talks with Pompeo “regrettable” and accusing the U.S. of “unilateral demands for denuclearization.”

On Sunday, Pompeo said North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho “made very clear of their continued commitment to denuclearize.”

Bolton believes North Korea should hold up its end of the agreement without excuses.

“We’re not looking for rhetoric here. We’re looking for performance of North Korea’s own commitment made to us, made to South Korea beforehand, to denuclearize,” Bolton said.