North Korea will dismantle its nuclear program within a year, White House national security adviser John Bolton insisted on Sunday despite recent reports that North Korea’s atomic weapons program is very much alive.
Asked how quickly he believes North Korea will turn over its arsenal, Bolton told CBS he believes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be in discussions with North Koreans in the near future about “really how to dismantle all of their WMD 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, adding, “It’s to North Korea’s advantage to see these programs dismantled very quickly” to speed the elimination of international sanctions and clear the way for foreign aid.
“Our experts have devised is a program.. with North Korean cooperation” that will allow “full disclosure of all of their chemical and biological nuclear programs ballistic missile sites,” Bolton said, adding, “we would be able to dismantle the overwhelming bulk of their programs within a year.”
However, his comments Sunday came just one day after NBC reported that they were told by more than a dozen U.S. officials that North Korea is pushing forward with its nuclear program at multiple secret sites.
“There is no evidence that they are decreasing stockpiles, or that they have stopped their production,” one official told NBC.
Bolton also addressed Trump’s upcoming meeting with Putin Sunday, telling Fox News Sunday that he believes critics are wrong to suggest the president has been to soft on Russia.
“I don’t think anybody ought to have a case of the vapors” about President Trump’s rhetoric on NATO and Russia, Bolton said, adding that the meeting will allow the leaders to cut through the “political noise” of alleged Russian collusion.
While some have questioned the rationale for a bilateral meeting between Trump and Putin, Bolton told Fox News that the talks would “let them discuss these issues and see exactly where there might be room for progress or where they might find there’s no room at all.”
On CBS, he talked about his own recent meeting with Putin, as well, telling the network the two talked about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
“Now?” host Margaret Brennan asked. “Meddling now?”
“Yes, absolutely meddling. Meddling in the 2016 election,” Bolton said. “And our concern about what they’re doing in the 2018 election and what President Putin said through a translator of course but what he said was there was no meddling in 2016 by the Russian state.”
Brennan noted that little happens in Russia without Putin’s approval, a fact Bolton said was “an interesting statement” and “something [he’s] sure the president will want to pursue.”