WASHINGTON - With Secretary of State Mike Pompeo due in North Korea on Wednesday (May 9) to prepare for the upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the United State's pullout from the Iran nuclear deal has sent mixed signals.
On the one hand, the US has shown it pulls out of international deals. This raises the issue of why North Korea should trust the US.
But, speaking to reporters minutes after President Donald Trump announced that the US was no longer in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - the Iran nuclear deal - National Security Adviser John Bolton said:"The message to North Korea is the President wants a real deal."
"Another aspect of the withdrawal that was announced today (Tuesday), is to establish positions of strength for the United States.. (with) implications not simply for Iran but for the forthcoming meeting with Kim Jong Un of North Korea; it sends a very clear signal that the United States will not accept an inadequate deal" Mr Bolton said.
"What we are asking for, what Secretary Pompeo will be discussing... in part rests on what North Korea itself agreed to going back to - the 1992 joint north-south denuclearisation declaration: the elimination of both the front and back end of the nuclear fuel cycle. No uranium enrichment, no plutonium reprocessing."
"There are other things we will be asking for as well," he said, adding, "When you're serious about eliminating the threat of nuclear proliferation, you have to address the aspects that permit an aspiring nuclear weapons state to get there. The Iran deal did not do that."
"The deal that we hope to reach, that the President is optimistic we can reach with North Korea, will address all those issues," Mr Bolton said.
It may work. "I do think that the North Koreans will realise they can't just get a weak deal with the US," Dr Sue Mi Terry, a former CIA analyst now a Senior Fellow, Korea Chair at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, told The Straits Times.
But Dr Inderjeet Parmar, professor of international politics at the City, University of London, cautioned that it also, "Sends a message to North Korea that the deal on the table from the US likely to be so extreme as to be unacceptable as it will likely mean the reduction of North Korea into a semi-colony of the US."
It is the first time a US official has mentioned a specific model for an agreement. Under the Joint Declaration of 1992, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) agreed not to "test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy, or use nuclear weapons; to use nuclear energy solely for peaceful purposes; and not to possess facilities for nuclear reprocessing and uranium enrichment."
Regarding the JCPOA, Mr Bolton said, "The only sure way to get on the path to stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons and delivery capabilities is to get out of the deal."
"This deal was fundamentally flawed, as the President said. It does not do what it purports to do. It does not prevent Iran from developing deliverable nuclear weapons. It allows Iran to continue technologies like uranium enrichment, reprocessing plutonium."
And the deal was "utterly inadequate" in addressing the military dimension, he said.