Bolton Says Leverage Is on U.S. Side in North Korea Standoff

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. is prepared to engage with North Korea again after a failed second summit to end its nuclear weapons program but won’t fall for an “action-for-action ploy,” National Security Adviser John Bolton said.

While President Donald Trump is open to a third summit, “some time may have to go by” because the marginal benefit to North Korea of getting U.S. sanctions lifted is greater than the benefit to the U.S. of partial denuclearization, Bolton said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

“The leverage is on our side right now, not on North Korea’s,” Bolton said.

Bolton Says Leverage Is on U.S. Side in North Korea Standoff

Bolton declined to speculate about reports that satellite images suggest North Korea could be preparing to launch a missile or rocket in the near future after Trump abruptly ended the meeting with Kim Jong Un in Vietnam in late February. Trump said the North Korean leader asked for all U.S. sanctions to be lifted in exchange for dismantling the country’s main nuclear complex.

The images shown by NPR on its website were taken on Feb. 22 -- days before the Trump-Kim meeting -- of the Sanumdong facility, where North Korea has assembled some of its intercontinental ballistic missiles and satellite-launching rockets in the past.

“There’s a lot of activity all the time in North Korea, but I’m not going to speculate,” Bolton said. “We see exactly what they’re doing now. We see it unblinkingly, and we don’t have any illusions about what their capabilities are.”

Trump said Wednesday he’d be “very disappointed” in Kim if reports are accurate that North Korea has begun rebuilding a separate missile test site it dismantled last year.

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