‘He doesn’t really mean it’: Trump is bluffing about stopping North Korea’s nuclear weapons, Bolton suggests
Former national security adviser John Bolton has suggested Donald Trump is bluffing about stopping North Korea from producing nuclear weapons in his most direct criticism of the president’s foreign policy yet.
Mr Bolton, who resigned from the Trump administration in September, accused Mr Trump of having more of a “rhetorical policy” on North Korea rather than a serious plan in an interview with the news website Axios.
“The idea that we are somehow exerting maximum pressure on North Korea is unfortunately just not true,” the former adviser said.
“We’re now nearly three years into the administration with no visible progress towards getting North Korea to make the strategic decision to stop pursuing deliverable nuclear weapons.”
His comments come amid heightened tensions after a top North Korean official said the country would send a “Christmas gift” to the US in December.
It is thought that Kim Jong-un is planning to adopt a hardline anti-US policy, which would take denuclearisation off the table and abandon negotiations, according to a CNN report.
Mr Bolton told Axios that if North Korea defies the US, the Trump administration should admit its policy has failed and take a tougher approach on Mr Kim’s leadership.
The former adviser said he does not believe the administration “really means it” when it promises to stop North Korea producing nuclear weapons that could hit the US or its allies.
If Mr Trump was serious about tackling North Korea, he “would be pursuing a different course,” Mr Bolton said.
Mr Bolton has previously advocated for regime change by force in North Korea and has been singled out for criticism by the country’s foreign ministry.
In May, a government spokesperson called Mr Bolton a “warmonger” in response to his criticism of North Korea’s missile tests.
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Mr Trump claimed last year that there was “no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea” after a summit with Mr Kim.
However, talks have stalled since then and analysts believe North Korea has expanded its nuclear capabilities.
Stephen Biegun, the US deputy secretary of state, recently said it would be “most unhelpful in achieving a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula” if North Korea followed through on its threat to test advanced weapons.
Mr Bolton described that statement as “a late entry but a clear winner in the Understatement of the Year Award contest.”