Pompeo insists North Korea agreement 'encompasses' verifiable, irreversible denuclearization

PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo answers questions at a press briefing, June 11, 2018, in Singapore.PlayWin McNamee/Getty Images
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is defending the agreement signed by President Trump and Kim Jong Un at the Singapore summit, insisting it “encompasses” ‘verifiable’ and ‘irreversible’ denuclearization, even though the document does not explicitly use those terms.

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The document calls only for “complete denuclearization,” sparking criticism the agreement was not specific enough to allow oversight of the denuclearization process.

“Let me assure you that ‘complete’ encompasses ‘verifiable’ in the minds of everyone concerned,” Pompeo told reporters in Seoul Wednesday. “One can’t completely denuclearize without validating, authenticating – you pick the word. The President is committed to that.”

When a reporter asked why the terms were not included in the statement, Pompeo replied “It’s in the statement. You’re just wrong about that.”

“I suppose you could argue semantics, but let me assure you that it’s in the document,” Pompeo continued.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump holds up a document signed by him and North Koreas leader Kim Jong Un following a signing ceremony at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
President Donald Trump holds up a document signed by him and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un following a signing ceremony at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

Pushing back even more against the question, Pompeo called it “insulting and ridiculous and frankly ludicrous.”

“It’s a game. And one ought not play games with serious matters like this,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo said he is confident that North Korea understands there will be in-depth verification of the denuclearization process.

Pompeo did not want to outline a timeline for denuclearization, though both he and President Trump have called for “rapid” denuclearization in the past. Pompeo did say he hoped to achieve “major disarmament” during Trump’s first term, or in the next two and a half years.

About the so-called “war games,” as President Trump referred to military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea, Pompeo said the exercises will be suspended only as long as there are ongoing “productive, good-faith negotiations.”

“At the point it’s concluded that they’re not, the president’s commitment to not have those joint exercises take place will no longer be in effect,” Pompeo said, promising to resume exercises if the nuclear talks fall through.

PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd R) and North Koreas leader Kim Jong Un (2nd L) sign documents as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) and the North Korean leaders sister Kim Yo Jong (L), in Singapore, June 12, 2018.Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd R) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (2nd L) sign documents as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) and the North Korean leader's sister Kim Yo Jong (L), in Singapore, June 12, 2018.

In terms of the immediate next steps, Pompeo said he is confident engagement with the North Koreans will begin within the “next week or so,” but he doesn’t know what form that engagement will take.

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