White House Defends Collapsed North Korea Summit
FILE - U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton arrives to address reporters during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, Jan. 28, 2019.
(VOA)WASHINGTON DC — The White House on Sunday defended the collapse of President Donald Trump's summit last week in Hanoi with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying American interests were protected by not agreeing to a partial deal on Pyongyang's terms.
National Security Adviser John Bolton told CBS News, "The issue really was whether North Korea was prepared to accept what the president called 'the big deal,' which is denuclearize entirely under a definition the president handed to Kim Jong Un and have the potential for an enormous economic future or try and do something less than that, which was unacceptable to us."
"So the president held firm to his view," Bolton said. "He deepened his relationship with Kim Jong Un. I don't view it as a failure at all when American national interests are protected."
In one of a round of interviews on news talk shows, Bolton told CNN, "We showed again the potential for North Korea, if they're willing to denuclearize."
But he added, "If you can't get a good deal, no deal is better than a bad deal."
Bolton told CBS that North Korea was willing to make "a very limited concession" to dismantle its Yongbyon nuclear weapons complex, which he described as "an aging nuclear reactor and some percentage of their uranium enrichment plutonium reprocessing capabilities."
He said that "in exchange, they wanted substantial relief from the sanctions. Now, one thing President Trump has said beginning in the 2016 campaign is that he's not going to make the mistakes of prior administrations and get into this action for action kind of arrangement which benefits the North Koreans."
"Our counter offer was where we have been, where the president has exercised persuasive abilities on Kim Jong Un to take the big deal and they weren't willing to do it," Bolton said.
Bolton said future U.S. negotiations with North Korea are in limbo.
"I think the president himself said that he expects they'll want to go back and re-evaluate what happened; certainly we will," Bolton said. "We'll look at continuing the economic sanctions against North Korea which brought them to the table in the first place. We'll see what happens next."
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