(CNN) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated US calls for North Korea to completely rid itself of all remnants of its nuclear weapons program before international sanctions are lifted on the pariah nation.
Speaking in a series of Thursday interviews with journalists from Asian countries that lie in close proximity to North Korea, Pompeo said that would include any possible clandestine sites unknown to those outside North Korea.
“I don’t want to get too far into the details, but when you think about complete denuclearization, it would certainly be all of their sites, not just those that have been declared,” Pompeo said in an interview Friday with YTN, a South Korean TV network. “So we’ve got to make sure that it’s complete.”
“That takes a great deal of work, a great big commitment on the part of North Korea as well, and there’ll be a parallel set of security assurances that are also big and bold and different,” the top US diplomat said.
Pompeo suggested the administration would link those security assurances to the economic benefits that could stem from a deal.
“For North Korea to have the security assurances it needs, it needs to know that it has an economic — economically viable path forward. It has to know that its people can eat and that they can have the wealth that the North Korean people so richly deserve,” he told Japanese broadcaster NHK.
“And so not only Japan, but South Korea, China — I imagine many nations will want to participate in the North Korean economy if we are successful in Singapore,” he said.
While President Donald Trump and other US officials have said they are prepared to walk away from the summit, Pompeo still held out the possibility that some sort of written statement or communique that lays out tangible achievements from the June 12 meeting could emerge.
“In the event that we are successful, as we are hopeful that we will be, yes, I would hope that there would be a statement that they would put out that each could agree to,” Pompeo told YTN. “But we’ll have to see.”
“Stand that on its head”
“President Trump has said repeatedly he’s prepared to make big changes and to undertake bold action; and if Chairman Kim Jong Un is prepared to do that, so is the United States of America,” Pompeo added.
But with regime survival always a top concern for the North Korean leader, many analysts question whether he would ever be willing to relinquish a nuclear arsenal that helps maintain his grip on power.
“They’ve relied historically on their nuclear program to provide their security, and what we’re asking them to do is to stand that on its head, to understand that it’s actually the possession of those nuclear weapons that create the greatest risk to North Korea,” Pompeo told Phoenix TV, a Hong Kong-based broadcaster.
Pompeo, who will travel on to meetings with officials in South Korea and China after the summit in Singapore, also sought to assuage concerns in those countries that the Trump administration is moving toward the summit without taking into account the views from Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo.
President Trump “is willing to do something big, something bold. I think that Chairman Kim Jong Un is prepared to do that as well,” he said.
“And then along with our partners — China, Japan, South Korea — we can all move forward together and have a fundamental shift in the relationship between North Korea and its region, and frankly, North Korea and the world.”
The nations’ top diplomat also told Phoenix TV that while he is sure Chinese objections to Trump’s trade policies will come up during his visit to Beijing — his first as Secretary of State — a readout of the meeting in Singapore will drive the agenda.
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