NKorea sanctions to remain until full denuclearization
The statement provides no details on when Kim would surrender his nuclear arsenal
SEOUL/BEIJING: Tough sanctions will remain on North Korea until its complete denuclearization, the U.S. secretary of state said Thursday, apparently contradicting the North’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 Singapore meeting that reaffirmed the North’s commitment to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” while Trump “committed to provide security guarantees.”
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 Wednesday that Kim and Trump had recognized the principle of “stepby-step 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 long-held 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 Trump’s upbeat assessment of his meeting with 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,” Moon later told Pompeo.
Pompeo insisted North Korea was committed to giving up its nuclear arsenal but said it would “be a process, not an easy one.”
Kim 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 denuclearization,” Pompeo said.
Moon later said South Korea would be flexible when it comes to military pressure on North Korea if it is sincere about denuclearization.
Also 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 Moon and Kim agreed to defuse tension and cease “hostile acts.”
Speaking later in the day in Beijing, 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 honoring the U.N. Security Council resolutions. Those have mechanisms for relief contained in them, and we agreed that at the appropriate time that those would be considered,” Pompeo said, standing next to the Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councilor 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.”
Wang said China had consistently supported the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula but that it was somewhat impossible to fully solve the issue overnight.
“At the same time, we believe North Korea’s reasonable security concerns should be resolved.”
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 Kyung-wha and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono.
The U.S. intelligence assessment of the nuclear and other military threat posed by North Korea to U.S. and allied forces remained unchanged despite Trump’s and Moon’s assertions about the North Korean nuclear threat being over, a senior U.S. official responsible for studying the North Korean military later said.
U.S. officials said it was unclear what types of training involving U.S. and South Korean troops might cross into Trump’s now forbidden zone of “war games.”
But big, joint U.S.-South Korean exercises appeared off-limits under the new guidance. –