The U.S. mission in North Korea to achieve full and verified denuclearization of the country will not change no matter “what transpires inside of North Korea with respect to their leadership,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a press conference on April 29.
The agreement made by President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore in 2018 needs to be fully implemented, Pompeo said.
The agreement stipulates that the United States would provide “security guarantees” to North Korea and North Korea would completely denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, but it had not provided any specific details regarding a timeline of denuclearization or methods for disarmament. Further work would be needed to implement the agreement.
The sanctions imposed by the United States on North Korea have not been lifted after reaching the agreement.
“The sanctions will come off when we are sure that the nukes are no longer a factor,” Trump said to media after signing the agreement. He said the verification process would be carried out by a combination of personnel from the United States and the international community.
North Korea also promised in the agreement to return the remains of American soldiers it has held onto since the Korean War.
Trump and Kim held their second summit in Vietnam in 2019 to further discuss denuclearization but it ended with no deal. North Korea insisted on lifting all sanctions while offering only a partial denuclearization.
Pompeo hopes that the United States and North Korea will still be able to find a further solution that would benefit Americans, North Koreans, and the whole world.
Kim Jong Un has not been seen since April 11 and did not attend a ceremony on April 15 to celebrate his grandfather Kim Il Sung’s birthday which he normally attends. His absence from the ceremony sparked speculation about his health. Pompeo said that there is no information about Kim’s current status.
“We’re watching it closely, keeping track of what’s going on, not only around Chairman Kim himself but more broadly inside of North Korea,” Pompeo said at an interview with Fox and Friends.
Pompeo said he had a chance to meet Kim’s sister and some other North Korean leaders during his several trips to North Korea.
North Korea is also under risk of the COVID-19 spread as well as famine because of food shortage there, Pompeo told Fox. Both threats have a real impact on the mission to denuclearize North Korea ultimately, he added.
Charlotte Cuthbertson and Jack Phillips contributed to this report.