North Korea contradicted U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s claims both sides agreed on key issues on denuclearization by publicly criticizing the United States’ “gangster-like” approach in negotiating for the discontinuation of its nuclear development program.
According to Pompeo, progress was made on “almost all of the central issues.” Pompeo did admit there was still a lot of work and negotiation to be done.
Within a few hours, North Korea issued a statement that presented a more negative assessment of their meeting with Pompeo:
“The U.S. side came up only with its unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization. The high-level talks this time brought us in a dangerous situation where we may be shaken in our unshakable will for denuclearization, rather than consolidating trust between the DPRK and the U.S.”
So far, the White House has not publicly commented on the statements released by North Korea’s state- owned news agency, KCNA. However, it does raise concerns and more questions on the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last June 12.
The summit concluded with both leaders signing an agreement which formalized the intent of North Korea to pursue the path toward denuclearization. The agreement did not identify the process and conditions of denuclearization. Reports have circulated that the United States tried but failed to get North Korea to agree on having the conditions of denuclearization included in the agreement.
Pompeo revealed that he discussed details of a denuclearization time-line with North Korea and the dismantling of their nuclear facilities:
“These are complicated issues but we made progress on almost all of the central issues. Some places a great deal of progress, other places there’s still more work to be done.”
The apparent disconnect between Pompeo and North Korea has begun to raise concern from U.S. officials on Washington’s immediate concessions to Pyongyang. At the conclusion of the summit, Trump revealed he agreed to discontinue the joint military exercises with South Korea.
Heather Nauert, State Department spokeswoman assured reporters that Pompeo was very firm in declaring the three basic goals of the meeting with North Korea: complete denuclearization, security assurances and the repatriation of remains of Americans who were killed during the Korean War of 1950-53.
Pompeo also assured reporters that Kim remains on-board with the process despite reports that North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear facilities:
“We talked about what the North Koreans are continuing to do and how it’s the case that we can get out arms around achieving what Chairman Kim and President Trump both agreed to, which is the complete denuclearization of North Korea.”