Graham: Bolton thinks North Korea ‘just buying time’ to develop missiles

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamRomney helps GOP look for new path on climate change Dem senator: 'Appropriate' for Barr, Mueller to testify publicly about Russia probe Conservatives wage assault on Mueller report MORE (R-S.C.) said on Sunday that incoming national security adviser John Bolton told him he believes North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is buying time in ongoing negotiations with the U.S. to build nuclear missiles.

Graham told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace that when he met with Bolton a few days ago, Bolton told him he is concerned that the planned summit between Kim and President TrumpDonald John TrumpHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Countdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions Omar: White supremacist attacks are rising because Trump publicly says 'Islam hates us' MORE might be part of Kim’s plan to stall.

“His biggest fear is that they are just buying time. They are about nine months to a year away from having a missile with a nuclear weapon on time that can hit America,” Graham said. “He sees these negotiations as a way of buying time, that’s what they’ve done in the past.”

Bolton was appointed national security adviser after Trump agreed to the meeting with Kim. He is considered by many to be a war hawk on North Korea, having called for pre-emptive strikes on the country many times, most recently in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in February.

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Graham said the president should ensure that the negotiations are “very focused and get quick action” to ensure North Korea doesn’t get the time it needs to build missiles.  

“We don’t want to give them nine months to talk and build a missile at the same time,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

He noted that the goal of the negotiations should be to ensure that North Korea gives up their nuclear program and also, if possible, to build a peace treaty with North Korea, South Korea and China.

The upcoming summit, which the president agreed to in March, is expected to take place sometime in May and will focus on North Korea’s nuclear weapons. The White House has said it expects Kim to take concrete actions in order to secure the summit, including pausing his ballistic nuclear missile testing in the interim.