U.S. contradicts N. Korea on sanctions
Secretary of State says tough measures will remain in place until there’s ‘complete denuclearization’
Tough sanctions will remain on North Korea until its complete denuclearization, the U.S. Secretary of State said on Thursday, apparently contradicting Pyongyang’s view that the process agreed at this week’s summit would be phased and reciprocal.
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un issued a joint statement after their meeting in Singapore this week that reaffirmed the North’s commitment to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” while Mr. Trump “committed to provide security guarantees.”
Mr. Trump later told a news conference he would end joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises.
“President Trump has been incredibly clear about the sequencing of denuclearization and relief from the sanctions,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters after meeting South Korea’s President and Japan’s Foreign Minister in Seoul. “We are going to get complete denuclearization; only then will there be relief from the sanctions,” he said.
North Korean state media reported on Wednesday that Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump had recognized the principle of “step-bystep and simultaneous action” to achieve peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.
The summit statement provided no details on when North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons program or how the dismantling might be verified.
Skeptics of how much the meeting achieved pointed to the North Korean leadership’s longheld view that nuclear weapons are a bulwark against what it fears are U.S. plans to overthrow it and unite the Korean Peninsula.
However, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the world, through the summit, had escaped the threat of war, echoing Mr. Trump’s upbeat assessment of his meeting with Mr. Kim.
“What’s most important was that the people of the world including those in the United States, Japan and Koreans, have all been able to escape the threat of war, nuclear weapons and missiles,” Mr. Moon told Mr. Pompeo.
Mr. Pompeo insisted North Korea was committed to giving up its nuclear arsenal, but said it would “be a process, not an easy one.”
Mr. Kim understood getting rid of his nuclear arsenal needed to be done quickly and there would only be relief from stringent UN sanctions on North Korea after its “complete denuclearization,” Mr. Pompeo said.
Mr. Moon later said South Korea would be flexible when it comes to military pressure on North Korea if it is sincere about denuclearization.
Also on Thursday, North and South Korea held their first military talks in more than a decade. The talks followed on from an inter-Korean summit in April at which Mr. Moon and Mr. Kim agreed to defuse tension and cease “hostile acts.”
Speaking later in the day in Beijing, Mr. Pompeo said China, Japan and South Korea all acknowledged a corner had been turned on the Korean Peninsula issue, but that all three had also acknowledged sanctions remain in place until denuclearization is complete.
“China has reaffirmed its commitment to honouring the UN Security Council resolutions. Those have mechanisms for relief contained in them, and we agreed that at the appropriate time that those would be considered,” Mr. Pompeo said, standing next to the Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi.
“But we 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.”
A North Korean officer escorts South Korean Major-General Kim Do-gyun after crossing the military demarcation line in Panmunjom, North Korea, Thursday.