Bolton says USA could dismantle North Korean arsenal "within a year"

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Leah Millis Reuters

Despite Trump's rosy 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 over decades to deter the U.S. Doubts over North Korea's intentions have deepened amid reports that it is continuing to produce fissile material for weapons. Last summer, during his first one-on-one meeting with Putin, in Hamburg, Trump said that he questioned him about the interference accusations and that the Russian leader denied it.

US intelligence agencies believe North Korea has secretly upped fuel production for its nuclear weapons arsenal, according to NBC.

It said the findings support a new, previously undisclosed Defense Intelligence Agency estimate that North Korea is unlikely to denuclearize.

Trump and Kim signed an agreement in Singapore that said North Korea would abandon its nuclear program, but did not specify a timeline or method for doing so.

He also emphasised the modernisation of the facilities and ordered the building of a shop in Pyongyang to sell the brand's cosmetics directly to consumers, according to the KCNA report. This video grab taken from footage released by China Central Television (CCTV) on March 28, 2018 shows Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shaking hands during their meeting in Beijing on March 27, 2018.

Appearing on CBS's Face the Nation, Bolton said he did not want to comment on the reports or on "anything related to intelligence" - NBC having quoted more than a dozen senior USA intelligence officials and the Post four. Some aspects of the new intelligence were reported Friday by NBC News.

The information would contradict US President Donald Trump who has said North Korea no longer represents a nuclear threat. "North Korea has great potential for the future!"

U.S. intelligence agencies have for at least a year believed that the number of warheads is about 65, as reported last year by The Washington Post. We've seen how the North Koreans have behaved before.

Siegfried Hecker, a nuclear scientist and Stanford University professor, has predicted it would take around 10 years to dismantle and clean up a substantial part of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear site.

Experts have voiced fear that Washington may accept a lukewarm deal centered exclusively on Yongbyon that disregards known underground sites.

That site is believed by most officials to have twice the enrichment capacity of Yongbyon. Officials in Pyongyang are seeking to obfuscate the true number of their weapons facilities, and United States intelligence officials believe that more than just one hidden site exists.

Bolton on Sunday declined to comment on intelligence matters.

John Bolton said top USA diplomat Mike Pompeo will be discussing that plan with North Korea in the near future.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has acknowledged that it could take years to implement any agreement on eliminating North Korea's nuclear stockpile, a hard-won asset that North Korean leaders regard as a guarantor of their survival.

"I'm not prepared to talk about the details of the discussions that are taking place", he said in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. "I think he's going to start now".

"Because Kim Jong Un has so far avoided making a commitment to halt research and development activities, the changes [at Yongbyon] are not a success or failure of the diplomatic process, but simply a signal that North Korea's nuclear infrastructure remains fully in use", Adam Mount, a director at the Federation of American Scientists, told CNN.

He said the one-year program the proposing would cover all of the North's chemical and biological weapons, nuclear programs and ballistic missiles.

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