Bolton: US 'may have to act on its own' against NK if China doesn't step in

Bolton: US 'may have to act on its own' against NK if China doesn't step in

John Bolton, a former State Department official and United Nations ambassador, warned that the U.S. may have to act on its own regarding North Korea if China fails to step up its efforts to rein in the reclusive country's nuclear program.

"The Chinese for 25 years have said they don't want North Korea to have nuclear weapons, but they've done precious little to actually stop them," Bolton, who was once considered a candidate to serve as President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE's deputy secretary of State, told radio host John Catsimatidis. 

"And I think ... our president's got to deliver a tough message to [Chinese President] Xi Jinping," he added. "Either we work together to denuclearize North Korea, or the United States may have to act on its own."

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Bolton's comments come as Trump arrives in Japan for the first leg of a 12-day trip across Asia, which also includes stops in South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

The president is expected on the trip to outline the future of U.S. engagement in the region. But his visit to China, when he will meet with Xi, is sure to be watched particularly closely. Trump has vowed increased cooperation with China — North Korea's only major ally — to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. 

Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have boiled over in recent months, as Pyongyang has demonstrated a number of strides in its weapons program, including improvements in its ballistic missiles and the testing of what the country claims to be a hydrogen bomb.

At the same time, Trump has engaged in a bitter war of words with North Korean officials, and has repeatedly floated the notion of taking unilateral military action against the country if it continues to threaten the U.S. and its allies.

Beijing has already warned against the outbreak of conflict between the U.S. and North Korea, and has urged both sides to tone down their rhetoric.