Bolton: U.S. Isn’t ‘Starry-Eyed’ on Ending North Korean Nuclear Program

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg News/TNS) -
trump north korea
National Security Adviser John Bolton, shown here speaking during the daily press briefing at the White House, Thursday. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The U.S. isn’t being naive in taking North Korea at its word on denuclearization, national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday.

“There’s no one in this administration starry-eyed about” the idea that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s regime will rid itself of nuclear weapons capability, Bolton said on Fox News. Still, the time may well come when Mr. Trump concludes that Kim isn’t acting in good faith, he said.

Mr. Trump is giving a “master class” in how to hold the door open to Pyongyang, Bolton said. If Kim can’t figure how to walk through it, “even the president’s fiercest critics won’t be able to say he didn’t open it wide enough.”

Bolton’s comments followed Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s warning on Saturday that other nations must not ease sanctions on North Korea until that country gives up its nuclear weapons. Pompeo called out Russia and China for violating United Nations Security Council resolutions restricting trade with North Korea.

In response, North Korea accused the U.S. of demanding too much without offering anything in return. “Advancing unilateral demands will further deepen mistrust instead of reviving trust,” North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said in a statement.

Trump met with Kim in June at a historic summit in Singapore and said afterward that the country “is no longer a nuclear threat.”

Since then, the White House has sought to show that North Korea is moving toward giving up its nuclear weapons despite news reports to the contrary. The mixed messages have undermined U.S. attempts to pressure North Korea, which hasn’t committed to a schedule for giving up its weapons.