National security adviser John Bolton said Tuesday that North Korea has not made progress toward denuclearization in a dismal acknowledgment that comes nearly two months after President Trump held a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.
“The United States has lived up to the Singapore declaration. It’s just North Korea that has not taken the steps we feel are necessary to denuclearize,” Bolton said in an interview on Fox News Channel on Tuesday morning.
He added the United States will continue to apply pressure until Pyongyang produces results.
“The idea that we’re going to relax the sanctions just on North Korea’s say-so, I think, is something that just isn’t under consideration,” Bolton said. “We’re going to continue to apply maximum pressure to North Korea until they denuclearize, just as we are to Iran.”
Unlike North Korea, Iran does not possess nuclear weapons, according to U.S. intelligence agencies and international monitors. Under a 2015 nuclear accord, Iran agreed to curtail elements of its nuclear energy program that raised proliferation concerns and pledged never to “seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.” Trump withdrew the United States from that agreement in May.
The Trump administration has consistently sought to reassure critics that Kim will make good on his pledges to denuclearize. Last month, Trump tweeted he had “confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake” in Singapore.
Yet the most tangible result of the June 12 summit so far has been last week’s handover by North Korea of the remains of more than 50 service members killed in the Korean War. The question of denuclearization remains a separate one, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said, and U.S. and North Korean diplomats traded jabs on the issue at last weekend’s annual conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
At that conference, which also took place in Singapore, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo handed to North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho a letter from Trump to Kim.
Bolton revealed Tuesday the letter contained a proposal from Trump for Pompeo to make another visit to North Korea to meet with Kim.
“Secretary of State Pompeo is prepared to go back to North Korea to meet with Kim Jong Un. We’ve proposed that in our most recent letter from the president to Kim Jong Un,” Bolton said.
“The president’s prepared to meet at any point,” he added. “But what we really need is not more rhetoric. What we need is performance from North Korea on denuclearization.”
William Branigin contributed to this story.