The United States has called on North Korea to end a 22-month standoff over its nuclear weapons program by giving up its weapons of mass destruction as Libya chose to do.
In a speech at Yonsei University in the South Korean capital, U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton said both North Korea and Iran should follow Libya's example by giving up their arms programs. He said such a move by North Korea would be a "strategic investment" in its own future.
"The central issue here is when North Korea is prepared to make the strategic decision that the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction makes them less secure, not more secure," Bolton said. He said that the United States would not be "fooled again" by any North Korean offer of a nuclear freeze.
Bolton met senior South Korean officials and is to visit Japan on July 22 as part of a drive by the administration of President George W. Bush to breathe life into six-party talks aimed at ending the 20-month-old standoff.
Three rounds of talks involving the two Koreas, the United States, Russia, Japan and China have taken place since August last year. Little progress has been made.
If the North Koreans "think that depending on the outcome of our November election they might get a better deal, I want to disabuse them of that thought," Bolton told reporters.
Bolton said the United States had underlined its seriousness about the six-way talks with a proposal last month that would extend energy aid to North Korea as part of a crisis solution.
"But it's not the talks alone that are going to make progress, it's the decision North Korea needs to make to give up the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction," he said.
A fourth round of six-party talks is scheduled for September.
Bolton appeared to make further progress pivot on an admission by Pyongyang that it is running a uranium-based weapons program as well as its known plutonium-based one. North Korea has denied running the uranium program and Bolton said it was unclear whether Kim Jong-Il had made the strategic decision to give up his nuclear weapons drive.
"North Korea's continue denial of its uranium enrichment program precludes a solution to this problem," he said.