U.S. President Donald Trump wants to give North Korea a "chance" to deliver on its denuclearization commitment by holding a second summit with the North's leader, Kim Jong-un, early next year, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Thursday.
Trump told reporters last weekend that he expects to meet Kim in January or February, but critics remain skeptical a second meeting will bring the North closer to dismantling its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
"Well, I think President Trump's trying to give North Koreans a chance to live up to the commitments they've made at the Singapore summit," Bolton said in an interview with NPR.
"He's held the door open for them. They need to walk through it. And this is one more chance for Kim Jong-un, who is the only decision maker that matters in the North Korean system, to deliver on what he said in Singapore, and that's possible I think some time after the first of the year," said the hawkish adviser.
Trump and Kim met in Singapore in June and produced a joint statement committing the North to work toward "complete" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the U.S.
But talks between the two sides have since ground to a halt. And according to recent satellite imagery analyzed by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California, the North has significantly expanded a key base that could be used to receive missiles capable of striking the U.S. with a nuclear warhead.
"The issue is not simply what North Korea says." Bolton said. "We've heard for decades that they're willing to give up their nuclear program. What we need to see is performance."
And when there is performance, he added, the U.S. will consider providing the sanctions relief the North seeks.
"We don't have Kim Jong-un in the room yet. And we need to see that happen," Bolton said when asked if the second summit would be Kim's last chance.
He declined to "prejudge what the president may do."
The adviser noted that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was scheduled to begin preparations for the next summit with his North Korean counterpart in New York last month, but that the meeting was canceled by the North Koreans.
Source: Yonhap News Agency