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Bolton warns North Korea of more sanctions if it doesn’t budge on nuclear program

National security adviser John Bolton listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on Aug 16.

JABIN BOTSFORD/THE WASHINGTON POST

By JENNIFER JACOBS AND JOHN HARNEY | Bloomberg | Published: March 6, 2019

WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — U.S. national security adviser John Bolton warned North Korea it must be willing to completely give up its nuclear weapons program or perhaps face even tougher sanctions.

“If they’re not willing to do it, President Trump has been very clear they’re not getting relief from the crushing economic sanctions that have been imposed on them,” Bolton told the Fox Business Network on Tuesday evening. “And we’ll look at ramping those sanctions up, in fact.”

The threat of greater sanctions risks increasing tensions after President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam last week ended without an agreement. Kim wanted Trump to ease most sanctions in return for dismantling a key nuclear production complex, while the U.S. wanted more action on hidden nuclear facilities, as well as warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles that could deliver them to the American homeland.

Bolton said the U.S. wouldn’t “buy the same pony that they’ve sold to previous administrations” and called on North Korea “to go back and reassess their strategy.” Accepting Kim’s offer, he said, would have “given North Korea a lifeline, giving them a chance to get their breath back economically while potentially still concealing a lot of nuclear weapons capabilities, missiles and the rest of it.”

Kim had vowed to meet Trump again to continue talks on his country’s nuclear weapons program, and the U.S. president also maintained an optimistic tone after the summit collapsed. Yet signs of friction are starting to emerge.

North Korea disputed Trump’s assertion that Kim “wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety,” with Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho saying his country had only asked for relief from sanctions enacted in 2016 and 2017. He said that would mean removing sanctions imposed by five of 11 United Nations resolutions against the country.

NBC News reported Tuesday evening that two days after the summit ended, new images showed that North Korea was rebuilding a long-range rocket site at the Sohae Launch Facility.

Bolton said on “Lou Dobbs Tonight” that he thought Kim would want to talk to Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, before engaging in talks with the U.S. again. He said he did not believe the two leaders spoke as Kim returned to North Korea.

“We’re going to see a lot of potential decisions coming out of North Korea, whether they’re serious about the talks, whether they want to get back into them and fundamentally whether they’re committed to giving up their nuclear weapons program and everything associated with it,” Bolton said.

“The president’s ready to make a deal, he’s ready to meet again,” he said. “He’s pointed to that bright economic future and if Kim Jong Un decides he wants to take advantage of it, the president’s ready to talk to him.”

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