Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States, South Korea, Japan, and China are in agreement that strict sanctions on North Korea must remain in place until its leader, Kim Jong Un, completely abandons nuclear weapons.
Pompeo made the remarks on June 14 in Beijing after conducting a spree of meetings with senior officials from the three countries, first in South Korea and later in China.
“Each of those three countries has also acknowledged that it’s important that the sanctions regime that is in place today remain in place until such time as that denuclearization is, in fact, complete,” Pompeo said in a press conference after meeting China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi. “There has been unanimity in that set of objectives, and I’m heartened by that.”
Hours earlier, Pompeo met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea in Seoul. Pompeo met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at 9 p.m. local time to wrap up a meeting blitz to update U.S. partners on the details of President Donald Trump’s historic meeting with Kim.
Pompeo told reporters in China that the four nations “have made very clear that the sanctions, and the economic relief that North Korea will receive, will only happen after the full denuclearization, the complete denuclearization, of North Korea.”
American officials have repeatedly affirmed that sanctions would remain in place until denuclearization is achieved. Pompeo’s statements on the heels of the summit are in response to North Korean media reporting that Trump expressed an intention to lift sanctions as part of a gradual disarmament process.
Trump and Pompeo have been adamant for weeks that their goal is to achieve the complete, irreversible, and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea.
While world leaders lavished Trump and Kim with praise for holding the meeting, media in the United States seized on the fact that the joint statement signed by the two leaders was broad in scope but offered little detail. Pompeo addressed these concerns with reporters in Seoul on June 13.
“A lot has been made of the fact that the word ‘verifiable’ didn’t appear in the agreement,” Pompeo said. “Let me assure you that the ‘complete’ encompasses verifiable in the minds of everyone concerned. One can’t completely denuclearize without validating, authenticating—you pick the word.”
At the first-of-its-kind summit, Trump and Kim signed a joint statement agreeing to work toward peace on the Korean Peninsula. Trump offered Kim security guarantees, while Kim committed to abandoning nuclear weapons. The joint statement also included a promise from Kim to allow the repatriation of the remains of American prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action.
Trump made a verbal promise that the United States would suspend military exercises, while Kim promised to destroy a ballistic missile engine testing site.
Pompeo on June 13 said that Trump is aiming to achieve complete denuclearization of North Korea before the end of his first term in 2 1/2 years.
“We have big teams ready to go,” Pompeo said. “We’ve been working on it for months to have all of the relevant parties from our labs, smartest folks—by the way, not just Americans, but partners around the world. We’re prepared to execute this once we’re in a position that we can actually get to a place where we can do it. Yeah, so most certainly in the president’s first term.”
North Korean media changed their portrayal of Trump after the summit. The state-run outlets used to refer to him simply as “Trump,” but has since called him “President of the United States” and even “supreme leader.”
Back in Washington, Trump credited the progress made with North Korea and America’s roaring economy with helping to secure victories by Republican candidates in primary elections.
“The Republican Party is starting to show very big numbers. People are starting to see what is being done,” Trump wrote on Twitter on June 14. “Results are speaking loudly. North Korea and our greatest ever economy are leading the way!”
A Story of Opportunity for North Korea
President Trump showed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a video resembling a movie trailer in preparation for their meeting.