U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Wednesday that North Korea's missile launches this week do not represent a violation of leader Kim Jong-un's promise not to conduct long-range missile tests.
Bolton, however, questioned the regime's seriousness about resuming denuclearization talks, as he spoke to Fox Business a day after North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea for the second time in less than a week.
The North claimed the tests involved a new large-caliber multiple launch guided rocket system.
"The firing of these missiles don't violate the pledge that Kim Jong-un made to (U.S. President Donald Trump) about intercontinental-range ballistic missiles," Bolton said, referring to the North Korean leader's suspension of long-range missile tests.
"But you have to ask if -- when the real diplomacy is going to begin; when the working-level discussions on denuclearization will begin, as Kim Jong-un again said on June 30 he was prepared to do. We're still waiting to hear from North Korea," the adviser said.
On June 30, Trump and Kim held an impromptu meeting in the Demilitarized Zone on the inter-Korean border and agreed to resume working-level talks within several weeks to negotiate the regime's denuclearization.
The two ended their second summit in Vietnam in February without a deal due to differences over the scope of denuclearization and sanctions relief from the U.S.
"I think the president taking this really unusual step of meeting Kim Jong-un at the Demilitarized Zone on June the 30th, walking into North Korea, has once again opened the door for North Korea to make a strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons and walk through it into a different future," Bolton said.
The remarks could be seen as supporting Trump's commitment to continue his diplomatic engagement with North Korea despite little indication the regime intends to give up any of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
Following the North's short-range ballistic missile tests in May, Bolton described them as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, to which the president later responded that he viewed them "differently." (Yonhap)