White House’s Bolton: North Korea nuclear program can be dismantled in year

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton attends a news conference in Moscow, Russia June 27, 2018. (Reuters pic)

WASHINGTON: White House national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday he believed the bulk of North Korea’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs could be dismantled within a year.

Bolton told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Washington has devised a program to dismantle North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in a year.

“If they have the strategic decision already made to do that and they’re cooperative, we can move very quickly,” he said. “Physically we would be able to dismantle the overwhelming bulk of their programs within a year.”

He said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will likely discuss that proposal with the North Koreans soon. The Financial Times reported that Pompeo was due to visit North Korea this week but Reuters has not been able to confirm his travel plans.

North Korea agreed at the summit to “work toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” but the joint statement signed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump gave no details on how or when Pyongyang might surrender its nuclear weapons.

Pompeo told reporters the day after the Singapore summit on June 12 that Washington hoped to achieve “major disarmament” by North Korea within Trump’s current term, which ends on Jan. 20, 2021.

Bolton said the United States was going into nuclear negotiations aware of Pyongyang’s failure to live up to its promises in the past.

“We know exactly what the risks are – them using negotiations to drag out the length of time they have to continue their nuclear, chemical, biological weapons programs and ballistic missiles,” he said.

“There’s not any starry-eyed feeling among the group doing this,” he said. “We’re well aware of what the North Koreans have done in the past.”