Bolton: N.K. leader will never give up nukes voluntarily under current circumstances
WASHINGTON-- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will never give up his nuclear weapons voluntarily under the current circumstances, former U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Monday.
Bolton, who was dismissed earlier this month by President Donald Trump due to clashes over North Korea policy and other issues, made the remark at a forum in Washington as the two countries are expected to resume working-level talks on denuclearization in the coming weeks.
"It seems to me clear that the DPRK has not made a strategic decision to give up its nuclear weapons. In fact, I think the contrary is true," Bolton said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"I think the strategic decision that Kim Jong-un is operating through is that he will do whatever he can to keep a deliverable nuclear weapons capability and to develop and enhance it further," he continued.
"He may try to get relief from international sanctions. He may make some concessions. But under current circumstances, he will never give up the nuclear weapons voluntarily," Bolton said.
The remarks come as denuclearization negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled since a second summit between Trump and Kim in Vietnam in February ended without a deal.
Bolton is known for his hawkish views on foreign policy and has been blamed by Trump for hurting negotiations with Pyongyang through his insistence that nuclear disarmament had to come before sanctions relief.
At the forum, he stressed that North Korea's self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests indicated nothing about its intentions.
"One very good, very troubling reason why there's no more testing of nuclear weapons for the moment, or of long-range missiles, is that North Korea has in its judgment, for well or ill, finished testing, and can produce nuclear warheads and long-range ballistic missiles," Bolton said. "That's not an encouraging sign. That's a sign to be worried about."
Trump has touted the North's suspension of testing as an outcome of his diplomatic engagement with Kim. The two leaders have had three meetings since June 2018 to negotiate the North's denuclearization in exchange for U.S. economic and political concessions.
Bolton also disputed the president's repeated claims that North Korea's short-range ballistic missile tests since May were unimportant and not a breach of Kim's promise to him.
"The testing of shorter-range ballistic missiles that we've seen in recent months doesn't give us any reason to think that those are not threatening," he said, explaining that the same technologies used in short-range ballistic missiles can be applied to longer-range ballistic missiles.
Trump said last week that another meeting with Kim "could happen soon," but likely after there has been progress in working-level negotiations.
The working-level talks have been expected to resume in the coming weeks, although U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that no meetings had yet been scheduled.
Source: Yonhap News Agency