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US has Libya model in mind for NK denuclearization: Bolton

WASHINGTON -- The United States is considering using the model of Libya's denuclearization in upcoming negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, the top US national security adviser said Sunday.

The Libya model calls for North Korea to fully dismantle its nuclear program before receiving any concessions from the US in return.

"We have very much in mind the Libya model from 2003, 2004," US National Security Adviser John Bolton said in an interview on Fox News when asked if Pyongyang should not expect rewards before giving up all of its nuclear weapons, fuel and missiles.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton (Reuters-Yonhap)
US National Security Adviser John Bolton (Reuters-Yonhap)

"There are obviously differences. The Libyan program was much smaller, but that was basically the agreement that we made," he said, noting North Korea already agreed with the South in 1992 to give up all aspects of the nuclear program, including uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing.

"Now, we got other things to talk about as well -- ballistic missiles, chemical and biological weapons, the American hostages, the Japanese abductees. But starting on the nuclear side with what North Korea agreed to more than a quarter of a century ago was a pretty good place to start," Bolton said.

He made clear when asked again that there would be no easing of sanctions before North Korea gives up the entire program.

"I think that the maximum pressure campaign that the Trump administration has put on North Korea has, along with the political military pressure, has brought us to this point," he said, noting that global leaders, including South Korean President Moon Jae-in, have all acknowledged the US' role. "Relieving that pressure isn't going to make negotiation easier, it could make it harder."

US President Donald Trump is expected to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in May or early June to talk about the denuclearization of the regime. The meeting will follow Friday's inter-Korean summit, during which Moon and Kim committed to "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula.

"I think it is going to happen," Bolton said of the Trump-Kim meeting. "I think it's something that the president has thought a good deal about already."

He added the "precise parameters" of the meeting are still being worked out, including its location.

If the North demonstrates that it has made a strategic decision to give up its nuclear weapons, the dismantlement process could move quickly, according to Bolton.

"It's a matter (of) first finding out just how much there is to dismantle," he said. "I mean, it's not possible to go to this meeting with a set of screwdrivers and think we are going to take it apart beginning the day after the meeting. And therefore, the full, complete, total disclosure of everything related to their nuclear weapons program with full international verification, and I think following Libya, verification by American and other inspectors is -- could be very important here."

Before taking office earlier this month, the national security adviser was known as a foreign policy hawk who freely voiced his reservations about the North Korean regime's trustworthiness.

He argued that the only diplomatic option left with respect to North Korea was to have South Korea take it over and joked that the North Korean regime was lying "when their lips are moving."

"You know, I have said and written a lot of things over the years. I stand by every one of them," Bolton said on Fox News. "But I was a freelancer back then. ... The decision-maker here is the president, and I don't think really there's anything to be served by going back to those golden oldies and comparing them to what the president's position is now. My advice to him, you know, I give in private. He makes the decisions. That's how it works." (Yonhap)