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Pompeo: U.S. still waits for North Korea’s denuclearization

Pompeo: U.S. still waits for North Korea’s denuclearization

North Korea must “deliver on the commitments” made in previous negotiations with the U.S. over denuclearization, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday, following similar comments from DPRK foreign minister Ri Yong Ho over the weekend.
Ri said in Singapore following the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) on Saturday that the U.S. must provide sanctions relief following recent “goodwill measures” by the DPRK.
When asked by reporters late Sunday on his way back to the U.S. about his views on the “simultaneous and phased” approach called for by Ri, Pompeo affirmed that sanctions relief was not on the agenda and insisted Kim Jong Un must “deliver on the commitments he’s made” on denuclearization.
But Pompeo also sought to downplay concerns that Ri’s comments represented a snag in talks, telling reporters to compare it to the “hatred spewed by the North Koreans” at last year’s event.
That speech saw Ri say that his country would, “never put DPRK nukes and missile programme issues on the table for negotiation, unless there is tremendous change of U.S. administration policy against the DPRK.”
But Pompeo said Sunday that in his brief words with Ri over the weekend, the “foreign minister made very clear their continued commitment to denuclearize.”
The newest comments from Pompeo appear to signal U.S. dissatisfaction with the “goodwill measures” on denuclearization listed by Ri in his ASEAN statement, namely the “moratorium on nuclear tests and rocket launch tests and dismantling of nuclear test ground.”
Still, the Secretary of State said multiple times that there are “lots of conversations taking place” with North Korea over how to move forward in the negotiations.
When asked if Ri’s calls for sanctions relief was a non-starter, Pompeo said they were still “working our way through it.”
Moments earlier, he said one focus of the talks with his counterparts at the ARF was to discuss the “need for each of [the other countries] to continue to enforce the UN Security Council” sanctions resolutions.
The statements from the two foreign ministers appear to signal a stalemate in talks between the countries, with the U.S. seeking additional denuclearization measures from the North before discussing sanctions relief and Pyongyang insisting relief must come first.
Meanwhile, White House National Security Advisor John Bolton on Sunday also appeared to ratchet up the pressure on North Korea, saying in an interview on Fox News that he still expects Kim Jong Un to denuclearize “within a year.”
He also said the U.S was “waiting to see evidence that in fact that strategic decision [to denuclearize] has been made.”
“Kim Jong Un promised South Korean President Moon Jae-in at Panmunjom on April 27 that he would [denuclearize] and that he would do it within a year, and so the focus here is getting Kim Jong Un to follow through on what he committed to [President Trump] at Singapore,” Bolton told Chris Wallace on Fox News.
Unprompted, Bolton also doubled down on the claim of U.S. expectations on a timeline, saying “the year period – there’s been a lot of discussion about where the idea of finishing this in a year comes from. It comes from Kim Jong Un. If they make a strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons, they can do it within a year.”
The Panmunjom Declaration, however, did not commit Pyongyang to denuclearization within a year.
Nor did the declaration signed in Singapore between Kim and Trump, which simply stated the DPRK would “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
Secretary Pompeo, too, has refused to put a timeline on the process.
When Wallace asked if the topic of another summit was included in a recent exchange of letters between Trump and Kim, Bolton only said the two sides were talking about “what is necessary” for progress on denuclearization.
But while it appeared Bolton was trying to set the timeline, he also was not overly optimistic.
“There’s nobody in this administration starry-eyed about the prospects of North Korea actually denuclearizing,” he said.
“We’re gonna have to see performance from the North Koreans, there’s no question about it.”