Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton warned Tuesday night during “The Ingraham Angle” on Fox News that North Korea may be offering to discuss ending its nuclear weapons program because “they’re so close to succeeding” and “want to get across the finish line by distracting us” long enough to get there.
After officials from the two Koreas met Monday, South Korea claimed that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was open to pausing its nuclear testing while engaging in talks with the U.S. Kim also suggested the possibility of giving up its nuclear quest altogether if it ceased feeling threatened by global pressure, according to South Korean officials.
President Donald Trump cautiously praised the “possible progress” Tuesday while warning it “may be false hope.” Trump has often criticized his Oval Office predecessors for letting North Korea use negotiations to buy time to continue its nuclear development.
“I would say that the reason the North is now trying to look reasonable is that they’re so close to succeeding in getting deliverable nuclear weapons that they want to get across the finish line by distracting us,” Bolton told host Laura Ingraham. “They’ve done it countless times before. It’s always worked for them.”
The South Korea president’s office said in a statement Tuesday that “the North showed willingness on denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula. If military threats to North Korea decrease and regime safety is guaranteed, the North showed that it has no reason to retain nukes.”
Although Bolton expressed wariness with North Korea’s seemingly drastic shift, he maintained that the U.S. would only be distracted successfully “if we take the pressure off” Kim that Trump has applied since he assumed the Oval Office in 2017.
“I think they have underestimated Trump severely,” Bolton said, adding that Trump “finally succeeded” in “convincing them he’s not Barack Obama.”
Bolton said Trump inherited a North Korea situation from the Obama administration “with some pretty unattractive options,” including the use of U.S. military force to quell the rogue nation’s rising nuclear threat.
“And I think one thing the North now believes is that [Trump is] not afraid to carry through on that option,” Bolton said. “He doesn’t want to do it — let’s be clear. But unlike some of his predecessors, he’s not afraid to do it to protect American citizens. And that should have an effect on North Korea and China.”
Trump reacted to the news in a tweet Tuesday, writing, “Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea. For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned. The World is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!”
Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea. For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned. The World is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 6, 2018
Later on in the day, Trump said during an Oval Office meeting that he was open to discussions with North Korea because “they seem to be acting positively. I think that their statement and the statements coming out of South Korea and North Korea have been very positive. That would be a great thing for the world. So we’ll see how it all comes about.”
Trump said the U.S. has “come certainly a long way, at least rhetorically, with North Korea” since he assumed the presidency.