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North Korea nuclear programme ‘can be dismantled in year’

Washington has reportedly devised a programme to dismantle North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in a year.

White House national security adviser John Bolton. Picture: AFP

WASHINGTON - White House national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday he believed the bulk of North Korea’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs could be dismantled within a year.

Bolton told CBS’s Face the Nation that Washington has devised a programme to dismantle North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in a year.

“If they have the strategic decision already made to do that and they’re cooperative, we can move very quickly,” he said.

“Physically we would be able to dismantle the overwhelming bulk of their programs within a year.”

He said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will likely discuss that proposal with the North Koreans soon. The Financial Times reported that Pompeo was due to visit North Korea this week but Reuters has not been able to confirm his travel plans.

North Korea agreed at the summit to “work towards denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” but the joint statement signed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump gave no details on how or when Pyongyang might surrender its nuclear weapons.

Pompeo told reporters the day after the Singapore summit on 12 June that Washington hoped to achieve “major disarmament” by North Korea within Trump’s current term, which ends on 20 January 2021.

Bolton said the United States was going into nuclear negotiations aware of Pyongyang’s failure to live up to its promises in the past.

“We know exactly what the risks are - them using negotiations to drag out the length of time they have to continue their nuclear, chemical, biological weapons programs and ballistic missiles,” he said.

“There’s not any starry-eyed feeling among the group doing this,” he said. “We’re well aware of what the North Koreans have done in the past.”

At the same time, US envoy Sung Kim held talks with North Korean officials on Sunday in the border village of Panmunjom within the demilitarised zone between the North and South Korea, South Korean media reported on Sunday.

Kim, the US ambassador to the Philippines, met with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui for working talks that were believed to be focused on setting the agenda for an upcoming visit to North Korea by Pompeo, according to reports in Yonhap News Agency and MBC television.

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