Despite the Singapore deal, North Korea’s up to its old tricks

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The United States has a plan that would lead to the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs in a year, President Donald Trump's national security adviser said today, although US intelligence reported signs that Pyongyang doesn't intend to fully give up its arsenal.

White House national security adviser John Bolton.

US President Donald Trump, right, meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island in Singapore.

Joel Wit, a former diplomat who helped the USA negotiate with North Korea including a nuclear agreement between the US and the regime in 1994, said the USA believed the rogue regime had two sites to "enrich nuclear fuel" including Yongbyon and another, but the name of the center was not revealed.

"Physically we would be able to dismantle the overwhelming bulk of their programs within a year".

Pompeo has already visited Pyongyang twice since April to meet with Kim - the first time when he was still director of the Central Intelligence Agency - and there are discussions about a possible third trip to North Korea late next week but such a visit has not yet been confirmed.

More than a dozen US officials who received intelligence briefings said North Korea has actually increased its production of fuel for nuclear weapons.

The assessment stands in stark contrast to President Donald Trump's exuberant comments following the summit, when he declared on Twitter that "there is no longer a nuclear threat" from North Korea.

Even if North Korea's promises were honest, it could take years of work, accompanied by an unprecedented agreement to grant access to outside inspectors, before USA officials could confidently say that the weapons threat has been neutralised.

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Evidence collected since the pair's historic meeting points to secret production facilities and the development of methods to conceal weapons creation - implying Pyongyang is aiming to hide plans to continue its nuclear program from the United States, having made contrary, if ambiguous, commitments to Washington.

MP Mark Pritchard, a member of All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea, said: 'The Americans will not be taken for fools.

The report stated that North Korea has "at least one undeclared facility to enrich nuclear fuel" besides Yongbyon, the main nuclear location.

Kim, the USA ambassador to the Philippines, met with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui for working talks that were believed to be focused on setting the agenda for an upcoming visit to North Korea by Pompeo, according to reports in Yonhap News Agency and MBC television.

"At the same time, North Korea hasn't even returned the prisoner of war remains that they said they were going to return", she continued.

Later, appearing on Fox News, Bolton defended Trump's decision to hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki this month as a way to get beyond the "political noise" that has consumed Washington over the ongoing investigation of Russian election interference.

North Korea expert David Albright, a former United Nations weapons inspector and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, said the assessments come at a time when "there's a worry that the Trump administration may go soft, and accept a deal that focuses on Yongbyon and forgets about these other sites".

Xi, however, apparently tried to temper North Korea's rapid moves to get closer to the United States.

It's been just weeks since the Singapore summit, yet already North Korea seems to be breaking the deal.

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