National Security Adviser John Bolton on Monday criticized North Korea’s denuclearization efforts, saying leader Kim Jong Un was not living up to the commitment he made to President Donald Trump at their June meeting in Singapore.
“What was significant about Singapore was the North Korean commitment to denuclearize, and they have not taken effective steps to do that,” Bolton said in an interview with PBS NewsHour correspondent Nick Schifrin. Closing the Punggye-ri nuclear test site with no international observers present, as North Korea did in May shortly before the summit, does not qualify, he said.
After the summit in Singapore, critics argued Trump failed to reach a substantive deal with Kim on winding down North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The president and senior administration officials have claimed the meeting was a success.
Bolton said the Trump administration was working to send Secretary of State Mike Pompeo back to Pyongyang to meet with Kim again. Pompeo was in Singapore for the summit and has led the United States’ negotiating effort.
“We’re not looking for rhetoric here. We’re looking for performance of North Korea’s own commitment made to us, made to South Korea beforehand, to denuclearize,” Bolton said.
Here are more highlights from Bolton’s interview:
On the U.S. plans to reinstate sanctions on Iran, announced Monday: Bolton said the Trump administration is not trying to change the Iranian regime but is seeking to change its behavior. “Iran has been the central banker for international terrorism for a long time. That’s not behavior that we should tolerate,” Bolton said. He also criticized the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump withdrew from earlier this year, calling the international agreement “badly flawed.”
Bolton also said Iran already was feeling the pinch from economic sanctions, which he said have led to the “collapse of the Iranian currency.” Bolton cited Iranian elites taking large sums of money out of the country and putting them in Europe for safekeeping. “The protests we’ve seen all around Iran, from those in Tehran itself to small towns and villages where the people are showing their enormous discontent with the regime of the ayatollahs, show that the pressure is having an effect,” he said.
On Russian election interference: Bolton said Trump is “deeply concerned about Russian election meddling,” and has made that clear “on numerous occasions.” Trump ordered last week’s White House press briefing by top intelligence and national security officials, including Bolton, on the administration’s efforts to prevent Russian and other foreign meddling in the 2018 election, Bolton said.
On whether any decisions about Syria came out of the July meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin: The leaders agreed that a framework was needed for getting Iranian forces out of Syria, Bolton said, but a specific agreement was not made.