US President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton said on Monday that the country has a plan that would lead to the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs in a year.
John Bolton said top US diplomat Mike Pompeo will be discussing that plan with North Korea in the near future. Bolton added that it would be to the North's advantage to cooperate to see sanctions lifted quickly and aid from South Korea and Japan start to flow.
Bolton's remarks on CBS' "Face the Nation" appeared to be the first time the Trump administration had publicly suggested a timeline for North Korea to fulfill the commitment leader Kim Jong Un made at a summit with President Donald Trump last month for the "complete denuclearisation" of the Korean Peninsula.
Despite Trump's post-summit declaration that the North no longer poses a nuclear threat, Washington and Pyongyang have yet to negotiate the terms under which it would relinquish the weapons that it developed to deter the US doubts over North Korea's intentions have deepened amid reports that it is continuing to produce fissile material for weapons.
The Washington Post on Saturday cited unnamed US intelligence officials as saying that evidence collected since the June 12 summit in Singapore points to preparations to deceive the US about the number of nuclear warheads in North Korea's arsenal as well as the existence of undisclosed facilities used to make fissile material for nuclear bombs.
It said the findings support a new, previously undisclosed Defense Intelligence Agency estimate that North Korea is unlikely to denuclearise.
However, Bolton on Sunday declined to comment on intelligence matters.
He said the administration was well aware of North Korea's track record over the decades in dragging out negotiations with the U.S. to continue weapons development.
"We have developed a program. I'm sure that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be discussing this with the North Koreans in the near future about really how to dismantle all of their WMD and ballistic missile programs in a year," Bolton said. "If they have the strategic decision already made to do that, and they're cooperative, we can move very quickly," he added.
He said the one-year program the US is proposing would cover all of the North's chemical and biological weapons, nuclear programs and ballistic missiles.
Pompeo has already visited Pyongyang twice since April to meet with Kim - the first time when he was still director of the CIA - and there are discussions about a possible third trip to North Korea late next week but such a visit has not yet been confirmed.
Pompeo spoke with the foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea in recent days about the situation with the North, according to the State Department, which has declined to comment on any upcoming travel.
Pompeo did postpone plans to meet with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and their counterparts from India on July 6, citing unavoidable circumstances, which has fueled speculation he will make a third trip to Pyongyang.
(With AP inputs)