Pompeo Says North Korean Leader Personally Told Him He Would Denuclearize

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that the North Korean leader personally indicated to him that he was willing to denuclearize.

His comments come only days before President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un are scheduled to meet in Singapore. Pompeo, who has already had two meetings with Kim, also said Thursday that “President Trump will not stand for a bad deal,” but rather the administration will seek complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.

However, the two sides still seem to be unable to agree on the pace of denuclearization and what exactly it would entail. Previous negotiations have not produced much, Pompeo himself said, adding that this summit “has to be big and bold.” Pompeo further noted that after the June 12 summit he’ll be meeting with South Korea and Japan to coordinate potential next steps, as well as that he will travel to China to brief officials there.

Stanford professor Siegfried S. Hecker, who has visited North Korea’s nuclear facilities four times, has argued that complete disarmament could take up to 15 years to achieve.

“North Korea will not give up its weapons and its weapons program until its security can be assured,” he wrote in a presentation. “Such assurance cannot be achieved simply by an American promise or an agreement on paper, it will require a substantial period of coexistence and interdependence.”

President Trump has said that should the summit go as planned, he would “certainly” invite the North Korean leader to Washington.

During a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday, Trump said he wished to normalize relations with Pyongyang if denuclearization becomes a reality. The Japanese prime minister also pointed out that his country as well is ready to establish normal links to North Korea.

“Normalizing relations is something that I would expect to do, I would hope to do,” Trump said.

Abe also said Thursday that Trump will not lift “very strong sanctions” on North Korea until it takes actions toward denuclearization. Trump similarly said that if talks don’t go well he has a list of new sanctions prepared.

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