Pompeo says North Korea sanctions to remain until complete denuclearization

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Tough sanctions will remain on North Korea until its complete denuclearisation, the U.S. secretary of state said on Thursday, apparently contradicting the North’s view that the process agreed at this week’s summit would be phased and reciprocal.

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued a joint statement after their Singapore meeting that reaffirmed the North’s commitment to “work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”, an end to joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises and gave U.S. guarantees of security to North Korea.

“President Trump has been incredibly clear about the sequencing of denuclearisation and relief from the sanctions,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters after meeting South Korea’s president and Japan’s foreign minister in Seoul.

“We are going to get complete denuclearisation; only then will there be relief from the sanctions,” he said.

North Korean state media reported on Wednesday Kim and Trump had recognised the principle of “step-by-step and simultaneous action” to achieve peace and denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula.

The summit statement provided no details on when Pyongyang would give up its nuclear weapons programme or how the dismantling might be verified.

Sceptics of how much the meeting achieved pointed to the North Korean leadership’s long-held view that nuclear weapons are a bulwark against what it fears are U.S. plans to overthrow it and unite the Korean peninsula.

However, South Korean President Moon Jae-In said the world, through the summit, had escaped the threat of war, echoing Trump’s upbeat assessment of his meeting with Kim.

“There have been many analyses on the outcome of the summit but I think what’s most important was that the people of the world, including those in the United States, Japan and Koreans, have all been able to escape the threat of war, nuclear weapons and missiles,” Moon told Pompeo.

Pompeo insisted Pyongyang was committed to giving up its nuclear arsenal but said it would “be a process, not an easy one”.

Kim Jong Un understood getting rid of his nuclear arsenal needed to be done quickly and there would only be relief from stringent U.N. sanctions on North Korea after its “complete denuclearisation”, Pompeo said.

 “EVERYBODY MUCH SAFER”

The United States has long insisted on complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation by North Korea but, in the summit statement, North Korea committed only to the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”, phrasing it has used in the past.

Trump returned to the United States on Wednesday and took to Twitter to hail the meeting, the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader, as a major win for American security.

“Everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office,” Trump tweeted. “There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!”

Democratic critics in the United States said the agreement was short on detail and the Republican president had made too many concessions to Kim, whose country is under U.N. sanctions for its nuclear and weapons programmes and is widely condemned for human rights abuses.

Pompeo said Trump’s comments about the reduced threat from North Korea were made “with eyes wide open”.

“It could be the case that our effort won’t … work but we are determined to set the conditions so that we can right this failure of decades and reset the conditions for North Korea’s participation in the community of nations,” Pompeo said after a trilateral meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono.  (Reuters)

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