Bolton says he doesn't think Trump admin 'really means it' on stopping North Korea nukes

Former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement Ex-Trump adviser, impeachment witness Fiona Hill gets book deal Hannity's first book in 10 years debuts at No. 1 on Amazon MORE said in an interview Sunday that he doubts that President TrumpDonald John TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of 'significant' problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days MORE "really means it" when he says his administration will stop North Korea from developing nuclear warheads that could reach the U.S.

In an interview with Axios's Jonathan Swan, the former White House official said that Trump's policy of blocking North Korea from obtaining such weapons was a "rhetorical policy" that the administration would soon be forced to admit had failed.

"The idea that we are somehow exerting maximum pressure on North Korea is just unfortunately not true," Bolton told the news outlet.

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"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 added.

He also attacked Trump's comments about short-range North Korean nuclear missiles, which he pointed out posed a danger to multiple U.S. allies as well as U.S. troops stationed in the region.

"When the president says, 'Well, I'm not worried about short-range missiles,' he's saying, 'I'm not worried about the potential risk to American troops deployed in the region or our treaty allies, South Korea and Japan,'" Bolton told Axios.

The criticism is some of Bolton's sharpest aimed at his former boss since his departure from the White House earlier this year. He previously accused the White House of revoking access to his personal Twitter account, a move that Trump has denied took place.

The White House declined to comment to Axios when contacted about Bolton's remarks.

Trump's tendency toward diplomatic talks with North Korea has been a chief issue of contention between him and his former national security adviser, and Bolton has publicly criticized Trump on the issue since being ousted from the White House.

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"Maximum pressure against North Korea’s nuclear program requires mobilizing the widest possible support. Kim’s repression of his people, terrorist activities, and pursuit of WMD’s [weapons of mass destruction] all warrant the fullest scrutiny. We should take the lead, not obstruct other nations," he tweeted earlier this month.