WASHINGTON — A senior State Department official said the U.S. is still looking for “CVID – complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization” from dictator Kim Jong-un, “and in order for a summit to be successful, the North Koreans have to do things that they have not done before.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is meeting today at the Palace hotel in New York with Kim’s deputy Kim Yong-chul, former head of North Korea’s main intelligence service. Last night they dined on filet mignon together.
In a background briefing with reporters Wednesday, the official characterized the meeting as “the two top dogs on each side” feeling out whether a Kim-Trump summit in two weeks is feasible.
Denuclearization, which the North Koreans have said won’t happen, is “where we’re beginning a negotiation,” the official said.
“Between now and if we’re going to have a summit, they’re going to have to make clear what they’re willing to do,” the official said, and the decision to move forward or not “is 100 percent in the hands of the president, and the president can make a fly-or-no-fly decision.”
“We want to see if we have the makings of a successful summit… We had discussions. I won’t go into the details of those for obvious reasons, but in similar types of discussions, we lay out what we expect to have happen, and the other side lays out what they expect.”
The official added that “as I think the president has made clear and Secretary Pompeo has made clear, the North Koreans have defined what they want as security, and they have determined some years ago that security could be found with nuclear weapons. What we have to convince them is that, on the contrary, their nuclear program has made them less secure, that there’s a better path forward, that we can work with them. We’re willing to work with them to provide them the security guarantees they feel they need, and in fact, we’re willing to go beyond that to help them have greater economic prosperity. But they have to denuclearize.”
The U.S. is “looking for something historic” to come out of the process, the official continued, “and be it for whatever reason the North Koreans say they’re not ready to do something like that … we will ramp up the pressure on them and we’ll be ready for the day that hopefully they are.”
Pyongyang said mid-month that they want the U.S. to drop any push toward North Korean denuclearization.
“If the U.S. is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the DPRK-U.S. summit,” said North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.