Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said in a US TV broadcast on Sunday that incoming National Security Adviser John Bolton has expressed “very healthy skepticism” about North Korea’s move toward dialogue on denuclearization.
Graham told Fox News Sunday that Bolton had recently given his view that Pyongyang was “just buying time” to develop its nuclear weapons while pushing for talks with President Donald Trump.
“They are about nine months to a year away from having a missile with a nuclear weapon on time that can hit America,” said Graham, who is himself skeptical the North’s intentions. “He sees these negotiations as a way of buying time, that’s what they’ve done in the past.”
Trump and Kim plan to hold a summit by late May.
Bolton has publicly advocated carrying out military strikes on North Korea to halt its development of nuclear weapons that could strike the mainland US.
Graham himself has expressed doubts regarding the terms and conditions of the upcoming summit but said the negotiations should be “very focused and get quick action” to ensure the North gives up its nukes.
“We don’t want to give them nine months to talk and build a missile at the same time,” he said.
Doubts about Pyongyang’s sincerity in moving ahead with denuclearization follows a report in the New York Times last week that North Korea is firing up a light water reactor at Yongbyon – an act that could threaten an upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and leader Kim Jong-un.
Such reactors can produce fissile materials for nuclear weapons in addition to generating electricity for civilian use.
But 38 North, a respected specialist website on North Korea, has questioned the accuracy of the Times report, noting that recent satellite imagery doesn’t show conclusive proof that such operations have begun.