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White House Says 'Great Momentum' on North Korea as Intel Reports Indicate Problems

In this undated photo provided on July 2, 2018, by the North Korean government, Kim Jong-un visits Sinuiju Chemical Fibre Mill in Sinuiju, North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

WASHINGTON — Reports over the past few days indicate that intelligence agencies do not believe Kim Jong-un intends to fully dispose of his nuclear stockpile, and is planning to conceal the size of that stockpile and the extent of nuclear facilities while attempting to extract concessions in nuclear talks.

Production of nuclear fuel has also ramped up while North Korea expands and improves a ballistic missile site.

After the June summit, President Trump tweeted, “There is no longer a nuclear threat.” He also said he trusted Kim to follow through on denuclearization.

“I made a deal with him. I shook hands with him. I really believe he means it,” Trump told Fox News in an interview aired Sunday. “Now, is it possible? Have I been in deals — have you been in things where people didn’t work out? It’s possible.”

National Security Advisor John Bolton acknowledged to CBS on Sunday that deception while using diplomacy as a cover is “what they have done before, but Kim Jong-un was very emphatic several times in Singapore he was different from prior regimes.”

Bolton said the U.S. is “going to try and proceed to implement what the two leaders agreed to in Singapore,” specifically “how to dismantle all of their WMD and ballistic missile programs in a year.”

He said that “our experts have devised is a program that, with North Korean cooperation, with full disclosure of all of their chemical and biological, nuclear programs, ballistic missile sites” could dismantle the program within a year, but said that disclosure hasn’t happened yet.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters today that she would not “confirm or any deny any intelligence reports,” but “what I can tell you is that we’re continuing to make progress.”

“In the last eight months you haven’t seen missile launches. You haven’t seen nuclear — you haven’t seen the nuclear detonations. And again, these conversations are continuing to evolve. I’m not going to get into the details, but I can tell you that progress continues to be made,” she said.

“…And as far as the one-year timeline, Ambassador Bolton said if North Korea makes the decision to denuclearize, their ballistics programs could be dismantled in a year. There’s great momentum right now for positive change, and we’re moving together for further negations. Beyond that, I don’t have anything for you.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is headed to North Korea on Thursday to meet with Kim and his team, the White House said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a member of the Armed Services Committee, told NBC on Sunday that if the intelligence reports are true, North Korea is “saying one thing and doing another, nobody should be surprised.”

“It would concern me a lot if they are expanding the nuclear program as they meet with the president,” Graham said. “I don’t want a war with North Korea. It would be devastating. A lot of people would be killed and hurt.”