WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that he is “convinced” North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un “shares the objectives with the American people” in talks moving forward.
“Every single site that the North Koreans have that can inflict risk upon the American people that is destroyed, eliminated, dismantled is good news for the American people and for the world. And so this is one step along the way. I had a good set of meetings this past week aimed at heading in exactly this direction,” Pompeo told Fox News in response to a report that Kim will blow up nuclear testing site tunnels for invited U.S. and UK media.
Asked what it would look like for Pompeo’s earlier vow to help North Korea “achieve prosperity,” the secretary of state said it would be “private-sector Americans coming in to help build out the energy grid — they need enormous amounts of electricity in North Korea — to work with them to develop infrastructure, all the things that the North Korean people need, the capacity for American agriculture to support North Korea so they can eat meat and have healthy lives.”
“Those are the kind of things that, if we get what it is the president has demanded — the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea — that the American people will offer in spades,” he added.
Two of the U.S. hostages just released by Kim’s regime had been doing just that: professor Tony Kim was helping deliver critical foreign aid to regions devastated by 2016 floods, and deliver critical foreign aid to regions devastated by 2016 floods. Kim Hak-song was working in agricultural development at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, managing experimental research to address the country’s food shortage.
Asked if regime change will be off the table in upcoming talks, Pompeo said that “we will have to provide security assurances, to be sure” to the dictator.
“This has been a tradeoff that has been pending for 25 years. No president has ever put America in a position where the North Korean leadership thought that this was truly possible, that the Americans would actually do this, would lead to the place where America was no longer held at risk by the North Korean regime. That’s the objectives,” he said. “When I said earlier this week that I think Chairman Kim shares the objectives with the American people, I am convinced of that. Now the task is for President Trump and he to meet to validate the process by which this would go forward, to set out those markers so that we can negotiate this outcome.”
“Do you have any problem, given Kim’s history and the history of his family as an oppressive regime, any problems with the idea of the U.S., even if we get our deal, in effect, giving a security guarantee to the Kim regime?” asked host Chris Wallace.
“Look, we’ll have to see how the negotiations proceed, but make no mistake about it: America’s interest here is preventing the risk that North Korea will launch a nuclear weapon into L.A. or Denver or into the very place we’re sitting here this morning, Chris,” Pompeo replied. “That’s our objective, that’s the end state the president has laid out, and that’s the mission that he sent me on this past week to put us on the trajectory to go achieve that.”
Pompeo cautioned that there’s “a great deal of work that remains,” and “our eyes are wide open with respect to the risks.”
“But it is our fervent hope that Chairman Kim wants to make a strategic change, a strategic change in the direction for his country and his people,” he added. “And if he’s prepared to do that, President Trump is prepared to assure that this could be a successful transition.”
Former CIA Director John Brennan said of Kim, “I think he has been masterful in how he has manipulated perceptions and how he has manipulated and, quite frankly, duped Mr. Trump.” Pompeo called Brennan’s remarks remarks “silly on their face.”
“We’re going to enter into a set of discussions with two nations doing their best to achieve outcomes for their own people that are consistent with their objectives and goals. I think we now understand that there is the potential that there are shared objectives, and our mission is to prepare the groundwork,” the secretary said. “And we’re pretty far along the way in doing so, and we’ll continue to work in the days ahead – 30 left – to prepare for June 12 so the president can have a successful outcome, that the two of them can meet and see if there is sufficient overlap so that we can achieve the ultimate objective for the American people.”