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John Bolton says North Korea has not yet taken 'effective steps' toward denuclearization

National security adviser John Bolton said Monday that he was not convinced that North Korea was committed to denuclearization. "That's why when you engage in the process of denuclearization, you need international inspection," Bolton said. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, told PBS that he was not convinced that North Korea was taking steps toward denuclearization. He also questioned whether the Punggye-ri nuclear test site was also really decommissioned as the North Korean government has claimed.

North Korea accused the U.S. of not living up to its end of the deal

North Korean officials published an editorial in a state-run newspaper Monday saying that the U.S. had been “acting opposite” of its promises and claiming that North Korea had held up its half of the bargain.

“There have been outrageous arguments coming out of the U.S. State Department that it won’t ease sanctions until a denuclearization is completed, and reinforcing sanctions is a way to raise its negotiating power,” the editorial read, as reported by Reuters. “How could the sanctions, which were a stick the U.S. administration had brandished as part of its hostile policy against us, promote the two countries’ amity?”

Bolton said that the U.S. wasn't the one being unfaithful

During his PBS interview, Bolton was asked about the North Korean accusations that the U.S. wasn't living up to what it agreed to at the summit. He replied:

Well, the president, at Singapore suspended major exercises, joint exercises, between the United States and South Korea. That's been done. But what was significant about Singapore was the North Korean commitment to denuclearize, and they have not taken effective steps to do that. Let's just take the decision to close the entrances, as you correctly say, to the Punggye-ri nuclear test, that was done before the agreement. There were no international observers present, really, to inspect what was done. There were some, you'll forgive me, representatives of the media who were kept at a distance and not shown anything except the bright explosion. And I think the view in South Korea and elsewhere is that that test site is not necessarily disabled.

That's why 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. That needs to take place in a process of negotiation.

Bolton also said that the U.S. was trying to schedule another meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Kim Jong Un, to gain commitments from North Korea on denuclearization.

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

PBS correspondent Nick Schifrin asked Bolton if he was “suggesting North Korea is not living up to that commitment” made at the summit. Bolton replied, “I'm suggesting President Trump has held the door open for them, they need to walk through it.”

In a separate interview on "Fox News Sunday," Bolton assured viewers that nobody in the White House was “starry-eyed” about North Korea denuclearizing.

What else?

On Sunday, the Trump administration reportedly gave North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho an envelope containing a message from President Donald Trump.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that, in addition to the letter, Pompeo had told Ri that the two should “talk again soon.” Nauert said that Ri responded in English: “I agree. There are many productive conversations to be had.”

One last thing…
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