Former national security adviser John Bolton said the US should resume military exercises with South Korea and hold hearings to determine US troop readiness on the Korean peninsula following Kim Jong Un’s remarks that he no longer has to abide by a ban on testing nuclear weapons.
“How to respond to Kim Jong Un’s threatening New Year’s remarks? The U.S. should fully resume all canceled or down-sized military exercises in South Korea,” Bolton, who’s been highly critical of President Trump’s handling of Kim’s nuclear ambitions, wrote on Twitter Wednesday.
“Hold Congressional hearings on whether US troops are truly ready to ‘fight tonight.’” he added, referring to the motto of the US military in South Korea.
Kim, speaking at a Workers’ Party meeting, said North Korea is no longer bound by a self-imposed ban on testing intercontinental ballistic missiles and announced that his regime would unveil a “new strategic weapon” soon.
He accused the US of making “gangster-like demands” and conducting a “hostile policy” by continuing to participate in joint operations with South Korea’s military.
Trump, speaking Tuesday night at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, said he believes Kim will keep to the agreement the two leaders signed during the June 2018 summit in Singapore not to test weapons.
“But he did sign a contract. He did sign an agreement, talking about denuclearization. And that was signed. Number-one sentence: denuclearization. That was done in Singapore. And I think he’s a man of his word. So we’re going to find out, but I think he’s a man of his word,” Trump told reporters before attending a New Year’s Eve celebration.
Pyongyang hasn’t tested a long-range missile or conducted a nuclear test in more than two years, even as it continued to launch short-range rockets.
Recently, North Korea warned the US that it would deliver a “Christmas gift.” Bolton, in an interview with Axios last month, blasted Trump’s policy on North Korea as “more rhetorical” than real.
“We’re now nearly three years into the administration with no visible progress toward getting North Korea to make the strategic decision to stop pursuing deliverable nuclear weapons,” he said.
Bolton left the White House in September after butting heads with Trump over his foreign policy decisions in North Korea, Iran and Afghanistan.