Pom­peo says North Korea sanc­tions to re­main un­til com­plete de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion

Financial Chronicle - - AROUND THE GLOBE - CHRIS­TINE KIM & DAVID BRUNNSTROM

TOUGH sanc­tions will re­main on North Korea un­til its com­plete de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion, the US sec­re­tary of state said on Thursday, ap­par­ently con­tra­dict­ing the North’s view that the process agreed at this week’s sum­mit would be phased and re­cip­ro­cal.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is­sued a joint state­ment af­ter their Sin­ga­pore meet­ing that reaf­firmed the North’s com­mit­ment to “work to­ward com­plete de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion of the Korean Penin­sula”, an end to joint US-South Korean mil­i­tary ex­er­cises and gave US guar­an­tees of se­cu­rity to North Korea.

“Pres­i­dent Trump has been in­cred­i­bly clear about the se­quenc­ing of de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion 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 de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion; only then will there be re­lief from the sanc­tions,” he said.

North Korean state me­dia re­ported on Wednesday Kim and Trump had recog­nised the prin­ci­ple of “step-by-step and si­mul­ta­ne­ous ac­tion” to achieve peace and de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion on the Korean penin­sula.

The sum­mit state­ment pro­vided no de­tails on when Py­ongyang would give up its nu­clear weapons pro­gramme or how the dis­man­tling might be ver­i­fied.

Scep­tics of how much the meet­ing achieved pointed to the North Korean lead­er­ship’s long-held view that nu­clear weapons are a bul­wark against what it fears are US 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 Trump’s up­beat as­sess­ment of his meet­ing with Kim.

“There have been many analy­ses on the out­come of the sum­mit but I think 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,” Moon told Pom­peo.

Pom­peo in­sisted Py­ongyang was com­mit­ted to giv­ing up its nu­clear ar­se­nal but said it would “be a process, not an easy one”.

Kim Jong Un un­der­stood get­ting rid of his nu­clear ar­se­nal needed to be done quickly and there would only be re­lief from strin­gent U.N. sanc­tions on North Korea af­ter its “com­plete de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion”, Pom­peo said.

“EVERY­BODY MUCH SAFER”

The United States has long in­sisted on com­plete, ver­i­fi­able and ir­re­versible de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion by North Korea but, in the sum­mit state­ment, North Korea com­mit­ted only to the “com­plete de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion of the Korean Penin­sula”, phras­ing it has used in the past.

Trump re­turned to the United States on Wednesday and took to Twit­ter to hail the meet­ing, the first be­tween a sit­ting US pres­i­dent and a North Korean leader, as a ma­jor win for Amer­i­can se­cu­rity.

“Every­body can now feel much safer than the day I took of­fice,” Trump tweeted. “There is no longer a nu­clear threat from North Korea. Meet­ing with Kim Jong Un was an in­ter­est­ing and very pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence. North Korea has great po­ten­tial for the fu­ture!”

Demo­cratic crit­ics in the United States said the agree­ment was short on de­tail and the Repub­li­can pres­i­dent had made too many con­ces­sions to Kim, whose coun­try is un­der U.N. sanc­tions for its nu­clear and weapons pro­grammes and is widely con­demned for hu­man rights abuses.

Pom­peo said Trump’s com­ments about the re­duced threat from North Korea were made “with eyes wide open”.

“It could be the case that our ef­fort won’t ... work but we are de­ter­mined to set the con­di­tions so that we can right this fail­ure of decades and re­set the con­di­tions for North Korea’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the com­mu­nity of na­tions,” Pom­peo said af­ter a tri­lat­eral meet­ing with South Korean For­eign Min­is­ter Kang Kyung­wha and Ja­panese For­eign Min­is­ter Taro Kono.

MAIN­TAIN READI­NESS

Tokyo has re­acted with con­cern at Trump’s plans to can­cel mil­i­tary ex­er­cises with South Korea, say­ing such drills are vi­tal for East Asian se­cu­rity.

Two North Korean mis­siles flew over Ja­pan last year as Py­ongyang made rapid ad­vances in its pro­gramme to de­velop a mis­sile ca­pa­ble of strik­ing the US main­land with a nu­clear war­head.

Tokyo is work­ing on ar­rang­ing a meet­ing be­tween Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe and Kim Jong Un, with one pos­si­bil­ity in­clud­ing the premier’s visit to Py­ongyang around Au­gust, the Yomi­uri news­pa­per re­ported.

A gov­ern­ment source fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter told Reuters that Ja­panese of­fi­cials planned to dis­cuss the sum­mit with North Korean of­fi­cials at an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence on North­east Asian se­cu­rity to be held in Mon­go­lia on Thursday and Fri­day.

Kang said South Korea and the United States shared the same goals and ap­proach to achiev­ing de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion.

“The is­sue of South Korea-US joint ex­er­cises is one that should be dis­cussed be­tween the mil­i­tary au­thor­i­ties be­tween the two Koreas, and it will be go­ing for­ward,” Kang said. “But the is­sues of the al­liance should be dealt with un­der the premise we main­tain joint iron­clad de­fence pos­ture.”

The US in­tel­li­gence as­sess­ment of the nu­clear and other mil­i­tary threat posed by North Korea to US and al­lied forces in Asia and the north­west Pa­cific re­mained un­changed de­spite Trump and Moon’s as­ser­tions about the North Korean nu­clear threat be­ing over, a se­nior US of­fi­cial re­spon­si­ble for study­ing the North Korean mil­i­tary said.

US of­fi­cials said it was un­clear what types of train­ing in­volv­ing US and South Korean troops might cross into Trump’s now for­bid­den zone of “war games”. But big, joint US-South Korean ex­er­cises ap­peared off-lim­its un­der the new guid­ance.

“Make no mis­take, we are go­ing to main­tain the readi­ness of our forces in South Korea,” said one US of­fi­cial, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity. The of­fi­cial ac­knowl­edged, how­ever, it was still not cer­tain how that was go­ing to hap­pen.

The United States main­tains about 28,500 sol­diers in South Korea, which re­mains in a tech­ni­cal state of war with the North af­ter the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo lis­tens to a ques­tion dur­ing a joint press con­fer­ence with South Korean For­eign Min­is­ter Kang Kyung-wha and Ja­panese For­eign Min­is­ter Taro Kono fol­low­ing their meet­ing at For­eign Min­istry in Seoul, South Korea,...

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