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Pompeo: North Korea Lied About Trump Making Concessions On Sanctions

Published: June 14, 2018
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Source: ZeroHedge

After briefing a group of reporters in Seoul, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke in South Korea accompanied by his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, where he insisted that Kim Jong Un was lying about President Trump making concessions on the lifting of economic sanctions. Pompeo insisted that the North wouldn't benefit from complete sanctions relief until after the country had completely given up its nuclear arsenal.

During the meeting, Pompeo was pressed about President Trump's purported commitment to a "step-by-step" process, as well as whether the president "expressed his intention" to lift sanctions - assertions that contradicted Trump's pledge to keep sanctions in place until Kim's weapons had been destroyed.

"Chairman Kim Jong Un understands the urgency of the timing of completing this denuclearization, and understands we must do this quickly," Pompeo told reporters. "And the sanctions relief cannot take place until such time as we have demonstrated that North Korea has been completely denuclearized."

Pompeo is briefing North Asian leaders on Trump's historic summit with Kim, traveling to Seoul to brief Moon Jae-in, the South Korean leader, before he visits Beijing next to brief Chinese leaders. Both China and South Korea support "a phased approach to negotiations" with North Korea while Japan wants the US to lead a "maximum pressure" campaign against Kim. The Secretary of State's main job appeared to be pushing back against criticisms of the one-and-a-half-page paper signed by Trump and Kim that set out some broad principals for North Korea's "complete denuclearization." President Trump famously declared after returning home that there was "no longer a nuclear threat" from North Korea, according to Bloomberg.

Pompeo said that even if "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" wasn't explicitly laid out in the document, both sides understand that it's a prerequisite to the US lifting sanctions against the North. Pompeo, who was speaking at a press conference with foreign ministers Taro Kono of Japan and Kang Kyung-wha of South Korea, defended the statement, which he declared was more than sufficient, even if every single one of the US's demands wasn't explicitly laid out.

"The summit created this enormous historic opportunity for us to move forward and will fundamentally really shape the relationship between the United States and North Korea," Pompeo said. "Verification is essential to that. 'Complete denuclearization' certainly encompasses that idea very clearly."

Pompeo said yesterday that he expects North Korea to take "major steps" toward nuclear disarmament by the end of Trump's first term. US defense analysts have estimated that Kim could have as many as 60 nuclear bombs and a range of missiles.

"We’re hopeful that we can achieve that in, what was it, the next two and half years," Pompeo said. "We’re hopeful we can get it done. There’s a lot of work left to do."

However, even some members of Trump's party appeared worried about the future of North Korea-US relations - particularly since President Trump said he would end the joint "war games" with South Korea, referring to the annual military exercises undertaken by the US and the South around the Korean Peninsula. Moon didn't address the question of the drills, while some US military officials have said they handn't been informed of the drills' cancellation before Trump announced it.

"It’s important that we don’t lose sight of the fact that Kim Jong Un is a butcher and he is a butcher of his own people," Senator John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, said Tuesday. "Trying to reason with someone like that is like trying to hand feed a shark. Doesn’t mean you can’t do it, but you’ve got to do it very, very carefully.'

Of course, the threat of a nuclear armed North Korea still exists - but it's not nearly as acute as it was before the summit, Pompeo argued. According to the Daily Caller, he later bristled at a reporter who pressed him about the verification process - several reporters took issue with the fact that the word "verifiable" was left out of the statement: "I find that question insulting and ridiculous and frankly ludicrous. I just have to be honest with you, it's a game, it's a game, and one ought not to play games with serious matters like this."

Trump made it clear that negotiations with the North must move forward if the US is to stop its military "war games." Pompeo said Wednesday that Trump "made it very clear that the condition precedent for the exercises not to proceed was productive, good-faith negotiations being ongoing."

"The summit created this enormous historic opportunity for us to move forward and will fundamentally really shape the relationship between the United States and North Korea," Pompeo said. "Verification is essential to that. 'Complete denuclearization' certainly encompasses that idea very clearly."

Meanwhile, Abe, the Japanese president, is considering holding his own summit with Kim Jong Un in August or September - but first Japan would like to discuss the return of Japanese nationals who were abducted by North Korea.

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