The US plans to keep economic sanctions in place until North Korea eliminates its nuclear weapons capability yet is prepared to offer “unique” guarantees to ease the regime’s security concerns, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
The top US diplomat emphasized that complete denuclearisation “is the only outcome that the United States will accept” from North Korea, sending a stern message to Pyongyang before Tuesday’s historic summit in Singapore between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.
“If diplomacy doesn’t move in the right direction, sanctions will increase,” Pompeo told reporters on Monday evening in Singapore.
Pompeo spoke as top officials from the two countries continued negotiations in Singapore ahead of the meeting between Trump and Kim.
He said that those talks are “moving quite rapidly and we anticipate they will come to their logical conclusion even more quickly than we had anticipated.”
The summit between the two leaders, scheduled for 9 am local time on Tuesday, will be a crucial test of Trump’s bet on North Korea: that Kim’s desire to end his country’s economic strangulation and pariah status can prevail over the dictator’s fear of relinquishing his nuclear threat.
Yet Trump and Kim have yet to agree even on how to define denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula — the stated goal of the meeting. The president wants the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of his nuclear weapons programme. North Korea is seeking a security guarantee — possibly including a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War — and the removal of the US’s nuclear umbrella protecting allies South Korea and Japan.
Even as he drew a tough line on lifting sanctions, Pompeo sought to ease North Korea’s wariness about giving up a nuclear arsenal that provides a deterrent against foreign adversaries while also serving as a key point of national pride.
“We’re prepared to take actions that will provide them sufficient certainty that they can be comfortable that denuclearisation isn’t something that ends badly for them,” he said.