North Korea has no intention of giving up its nuclear weapons, and Pyongyang benefits from stalling in its standoff with Washington, US President Donald Trump‘s former national security adviser John Bolton said in a speech on Monday.
“It seems to be 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, a hardliner towards North Korea and Iran, said at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Under current circumstances, Bolton said, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “will never give up the nuclear weapons voluntarily”.
It was Bolton’s first speech since he was forced out of his post three weeks ago.
In firing Bolton, Trump said he “disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions”. Trump has met Kim to negotiate North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons.
Bolton, Trump’s third NSA, had pressed the president not to let up pressure on North Korea despite diplomatic efforts.
In his speech to the CSIS, Bolton issued a litany of warnings about how Washington was handling the North Korea threat, from sanctions not being enforced effectively and US complacency about Pyongyang’s missile testing to suspension of “war games” with South Korea.
“I think right now we are in a classic standoff with North Korea,” Bolton said. “They want a piece of something that we should not be prepared to give them.”
Bolton, a chief architect of Trump’s strident stance against Iran, had also argued against Trump’s suggestions of a possible meeting with the Iranian leadership and advocated a tougher approach on Russia and, more recently, Afghanistan.
“Time works against those who oppose nuclear proliferation and a relaxed attitude to time is a benefit to the likes of North Korea and Iran,” he said.